GARDEN BLOG ON T&M TRIAL
Last updated Tuesday 15th July 2014

Driftwood has featured on Good Morning Britain and has been invited to participate in the Thompson & Morgan Customer Trials Programme again for 2014. It was also involved throughout 2013.

THE BLOG IS SPLIT IN TWO PARTS, THE TOP RELATING TO WHAT WE WILL BE DOING IN 2014 AND WHAT HAPPENED IN 2013 IS FURTHER DOWN.

In July 2014, my latest blog was posted on their web site about how the garden openings and the new and old plants doing well in the garden this summer. Read it all here.


Michael Perry, New Product Development Manager, visited the garden last summer to see both the garden and the trial plants we were growing for T&M.

In April 2014, my latest blog was posted on their web site about what's thrived in the garden from 2013 trial plants and new plants for 2014, read it all here.

In February 2014, a blog was posted on their web site about surviving the storms and preparing for the summer season of open gardens, read it all here.

Thompson & Morgan recently posted a new blog about the BIG BEGONIA REVIVAL, including a post from me as well, which can be seen here.

Click the picture of the garden on the left to take you straight to Driftwood Garden main web site.

Last September Thompson & Morgan invited me to write about my experiences and successes with the trial plants received in 2013 and you can read all about it here on their web site. Find out which grew really well here on the south coast in the exposed coastal garden. You can also read about my gardening experiences and how I got involved with their customer trials panel back at the start of 2013 here.
Both Thompson & Morgan and Michael Perry regularly tweet about the garden, 2 examples below!
After visiting the garden Michael tweeted as below!

One of the main requirements as a panellist is to maintain a record of what you are trialling. I have chose to take some before and after photographs. It has been interesting, as I have a coastal garden with very strong, salt laden winds blowing in from the sea and it is sometimes difficult to find the right spot for plants and shrubs to give them the protection they rightly need! Being supplied with plants I have not chosen myself will mean that some, will inevitably, not be placed in ideal situations and has been interesting to see if they do well or not!

Back in 2012 the garden was one of the 4 finalists in the Daily Mail National Garden Competition and won outright the Garden News Best Small Garden Competition.

Below is the back garden, taken in June 2013, which faces due north, with half the area receiving no sun in the winter months, being screened by the house & the front garden, which faces the sea and due south, taken in July 2013 .


The garden will open 16 times in 2014, altogether, it has raised over £32000 for various charities since July 2009.
Details and pictures will be posted on all the bulbs that were delivered in the autumn of 2013 as they flower this year! Scroll down to the section updating all the 2013 trial plants.

RECORD OF TRIAL PLANTS IN 2014

The crazytunia petunia are doing really well, the Preppy Cerise on the left looking really good at the moment! In the centre the lovely osteopermum bronze that arrived on the 27th march with it's first flower on 25th June! On the right the first flowers on the Busy Lizzie Divine looking very striking after only being delivered on the 29th May. Both images taken on 17th June.

The beetroot seeds were planted up in a trough, as I had no ground space to put them, but they are doing well, almost ready to pick. The Petunia crazytunia are doing well across the garden and this gorgeous "Preppy Blue" looks sensational!

On the 29th May 30 plugs of Busy Lizzie Divine arrived. Busy Lizzie 'Divine T&M's Choice'Impatiens x hawkeri Half-hardy Annual. New in 2014, beat busy Lizzie mildew problems. Our garden-ready plants are now even bigger and better! You can plant our garden-ready plants straight into the garden when they arrive - it couldn’t be easier! There’s no need to re-pot them or to grow them on - just plant and water them. Pretty soon you’ll be enjoying their wonderful displays of colour. If you haven’t got the time or the room to grow plants from small seedlings, then these are for you! You’re sure to get great results because we’ve done the crucial early growing for you. Just plant, water and enjoy! A vast improvement on Busy Lizzie ‘Divine’ with even better downy mildew resistance! New Guinea Impatiens ‘Divine T&M’s Choice’ brings together a resilient mix of vibrant flower colours set above attractive bronze-green foliage. Endless flowering and a strong, vigorous habit ensures that these spreading plants will quickly fill pots, beds and borders with long lasting colour. Height: 30cm (12"). Spread: 35cm (14").

All the products delivered for trial in 2014 have now come out of the greenhouse and 90% of them are planted out in the garden.

This antirrhinum Candy Cane is almost 15 inches tall now and has started to take off as the photo shows, with buds about to flower. The petunia orchid picotee (right) are now becoming established in the garden too but no flowers as yet!

The petunia crazytunia are now starting to flower and look amazing! Centre, Starlight Blue and right Mandevilla. The one on the left, Preppy Blue, is one of the best basket mix, Preppy Blue. All 3 images taken on 29th May.

Above you can see from left to right, the Gazenia Sunbather Tikal Exotic, the newly planted Tomtato and the first flower of the Crazytunia Petunias, Green with Envy. All 3 images taken on 18th May.

On the 2nd May 20 plugs of Petunia Crazytunia Collection arrived. Sensational petunias in never-before-seen colour combinations! These compact, upright petunias have a robust habit and superb weather resistance which ensures a brilliant performance throughout summer. Plant them in beds, containers and baskets for a magnificent display that will stop people in their tracks. Height: 25cm (10"). Spread: 30cm (12"). Collection comprises: Petunia 'Crazytunia Mandevilla' - Incredible fiery colours radiate outwards from the centres of these unique, star shaped blooms. Petunia 'Crazytunia Pulse' - Gold star-shaped patterns with cerise edges contrast strongly against the dark velvety purple trumpets. Petunia 'Crazytunia Starlight Blue' - Brilliant white, star-shaped blooms are edged in the deepest shade of midnight blue. Petunia 'Crazytunia Green with Envy' - Contrasting pink markings gradually take over each lime green petal until the blooms are almost entirely pink.

Above you can see from left to right, the Osteospermum bronze that arrived back on 27th March, along with the Geranium F1 T&Ms Choice on the 20th March and the rainbow beet seeds planted Mid April that are now starting to grow. All 3 images taken on 29th April.

On the 19th April, an additional product arrived, 36 plugs of Antirrhinums Candy Cane Mixed arrived. The first of a new generation of high quality, fragrant snapdragons, in a flamboyant contemporary colour range. Tried and tested, Antirrhinum 'Candy Canes' Mixed is ideal for adding a bright splash of colour to cottage garden borders, and won't disappoint as a cut flower either. Height: 35cm (18”). Spread: 35cm (14”).

On the 17th April, the 12 plugs of Best Basket Mix arrived. A selection of plants that T&M know will work together superbly, giving colour all summer long. Each plant is of equal vigour, so you can be sure that they will grow at similar rates without one of them taking over the rest! This is the easy way to non-stop hanging basket colour! Height: 25cm (10"). Spread: 30cm (12").

On the 27th March the 12 plugs of Osteospermum Bronze arrived. African Daisy, Cape Daisy, Half-hardy Annual and new in 2014. Shimmering bronze flowers all summer. Masses of shimmering pink-orange daisy blooms smother neat, uniform plants all summer long. The vibrant shades of Osteopsermum 'Bronze Medallion' will heat up any bedding scheme, border or container. Thriving in hot and sunny conditions, these drought tolerant Cape Daisies are a real stalwart of the summer garden, flowering right up to the first frosts. Height: 25cm (10"). Spread: 30cm (12").

On the 20th March the 36 plugs of Geranium F1 T&Ms Choice arrived. These are a Half-hardy Perennial, new in 2014 with stunning blooms which will last all summer. An improved mix of their best seller Geranium ‘Jackpot’! These weather tolerant, F1 hybrid pelargoniums have more than enough vigour to ensure a spectacular, free flowering display throughout summer. Geranium 'T&Ms Choice Mixed' produce masses of colourful single blooms on neat compact plants. Perfect for filling beds, borders and patio containers. Height: 40cm (16"). Spread: 35cm (14").

Also on the 20th, the 36 plugs of Petunia Orchid Picotee Mixed. An outstanding petunia, producing masses of lavish double blooms with crisp, white picotee edges. The superb garden performance of Petunia 'Orchid Picotee' makes these resilient, compact plants an absolute delight in beds, containers, baskets and flower Pouches®. Height and spread: 30cm (12”).

Finally on the 20th, the 24 plugs of Lewisia Elise Mixed. Masses of starry flowers in a range of fruity colours, including stripes and picotees adorn slender stems above neat rosettes of fleshy leaves. Traditionally grown as perennials in alpine houses, new breeding has brought us Lewisia 'Elise Mixed' which flowers in its first year, making a bright and attractive annual bedding plant! Winner of a Fleuroselect Gold Medal, these exceptional plants repeat flower throughout summer, lighting up beds, borders, containers and rock gardens. Tolerating heat and drought well, Lewisia is also perfectly happy with cooler temperatures and will overwinter with protection from wet weather. Height: 25cm (10"). Spread: 30cm (12").

The second batch of trial plants arrived on the 17th March. were the 5 plugs of the Gazania 'Sunbathers Tikal' Exotic, tiger-striped gazania flowers that stay open even on the dullest days. As the name suggests, Gazania 'Sunbathers Tikal' loves a sunny spot and will even tolerate drought or coastal windy conditions. This resilient, free flowering bedding plant is so easy to grow - perfect for patio containers, beds and borders. Height and spread: 25cm (10").

The first trial plants to arrive on the 13th March were the 24 plugs of the Penstemon cobaea 'Wedding Bells' (also known as Orchestra Mixed) which combines some of the best penstemons from T&M's own breeding programme. Satin, bell-shaped flowers in a variety of bright colours and patterns are carried over a particularly long flowering period, above glossy, semi-evergreen foliage. A fantastic alternative to Antirrhinums (snapdragons) in annual bedding schemes, these compact penstemon plants boast large flowers and superb weather resistance. Easy to maintain, these hardy perennials are also attractive to bees. Height: 50cm (18"). Spread: 45cm (18").

On 25th January the essential Lawn Green arrived, which I shall use on the banks of grass at the front of the house this year! Along with the Rainbow Beet seeds of beetroot which I shall try out as well.

UPDATE OF TRIAL PLANTS RECEIVED IN 2013 AS THEY DEVELOP IN 2014

The osteospermum tresco purple that came last autumn are now really flowering profusely in the area near the pond, as the image taken on the 17th June, on the left shows. On the right the Tree Lily Leopard Lionheart just starting to flower again in 2014 with doublt the stems it had last year!

On the left the alstromeira Peruvian Tree Lily from last summer doing really well again! On the right the Rose garden Party that were also delivered in 2013.

Above you can see from left to right, the Osteospermum Tresco Purple that arrived back in September 2013 and has spent the whole time in small troughs in the garden. In the centre the Aralia Cordata Sun King which also came last Sepember and remained in the original pot until planted in a raised bed 4 weeks ago and is now showing good signs of growth. On the right the first of the tulip Ice Cream to flower, with many more on the way. All 3 images taken on 19th April.

Above you can see the stunning Tulip Silver Parrot that have been utterly magnificent in the garden throughout April and in to May..

Above you can see the well established growth of the Peruvian Tree lillies along with the strong growth of the Plum Claude Reine in early April. Both of these were trial plants in 2013.

Here you can see the growth in early April of the Cox's Orange Pippin, the Tiger lillies and the Rose Garden Party! All doing well in their second year!

The tulip Silver Parrot and Ice Cream which were delivered last autumn are now starting to come up and will look stunning in a few days!

Despite the really cold weather down here on the south coast, 2 of last years trial plants are showing signs of awakening on 23rd February. Rose Garden Party is already showing signs of new growth, right and Tree Lily, Leopard Lionheart is starting to burst up from the pot, left!

Back in 2013 this Alstromeira, Peruvian Tree Lily was delivered and flowered profusely through until late November. Amazingly, despite the dreadful weather through December and January it has started to produce new shoot already! It's going to look amazing again in 2014!

RECORD OF TRIAL PLANTS RECEIVED IN 2013

The garden opened 17 times in 2013, 5 for the National Gardens Scheme, 5 for other charities and 7 times with art displayed in the garden. I know many visitors enjoyed seeing the new plants we have been trialling, on behalf of Thompson & Morgan, throughout last year and this blog identifies the most talked about ones here!

The images below refer to the most recent acqusitions first.
During March and some of April, all the plug plants were kept in the greenhouse, behind the summer house at the top right of the garden, due to the extreme cold.

The Geranium 'Hardy Doubles Collection' arrived on 11th November. All hardy perennials. I am told all undemanding and easy to grow, this marvellous mix of perennial hardy geraniums will grow almost anywhere. Attractive double flowers are produced in abundance on these low growing plants - perfect for creating colourful, low maintenance ground cover or softening the edges of cottage garden borders. Collection comprises: Geranium x oxonianum f. thurstonianum 'Southcombe Double' - Warm pink, double flowers displayed above light green foliage. Height: 40cm (16"). Spread: 60cm (24"). Geranium himalayense 'Plenum' - Gently ruffled, double flowers in shades of purple- pink. Height: 25cm (10"). Spread: 60cm (24"). Geranium pratense 'Summer Skies' - Tightly frilled, mauve-pink flowers with contrasting yellow centres. Height and spread: 60cm (24"). Geranium pratense 'Double Jewel' - Exquisite double white, star-shaped flowers with contrasting pink-purple centres. Height: 25cm (10"). Spread: 30cm (12"). They are going to be planted around the pond area! Let's hope they look great next spring!

On 2nd November the Iris ensata 'Collection' Japanese Iris, Iris kaempferi.Hardy Rhizome, NEW in 2013 arrived. Spectacular, exotic blooms will be carried above narrow, strap-like foliage in summer. Iris ensata enjoy a reliably moist soil and positively thrive in bog gardens or at the margins of a pond or stream. The long stems of these low maintenance perennials also make them ideal for cutting for an eye-catching vase indoors. Height: 90cm (36"). Spread: 30cm (12"). Will they do well here by the coast?

On 18th October Tulip 'Silver Parrot' - Dutch Gardens, Tulipa, Hardy Bulb arrived. A rare treasure and a magnificent variety that looks fabulous even when it’s not in bloom! Enormous, ruffled and fringed tulip flowers in warm, rosy pink and cream tones are carried above unusual variegated foliage with creamy white edges. The huge blooms reach up to 20cm across when fully open, so you will only need a few to fill a vase indoors. With a strong growth habit, Tulip ‘Silver Parrot’ is a late-season bloomer that’s well worth waiting for. Height: 45cm (18"). Spread: 15cm (6"). Let's see how they grows.

The Peruvian Tree Lily is still going strong in mid October. It has been flowering now for over 4 months and still look fantastic.

On 15th October the Tulip 'Ice Cream' Bulbs arrived. Here's what they should look like next spring! An extraordinary peony-flowered Tulip with a formation of petals that resembles an ice-cream cone! Layer upon layer of fluffy white petals are encased by an outer layer of magenta tepals, each with a green stripe. Sure to be a talking point in your spring garden, Tulip 'Ice Cream' looks fabulous in beds, borders, containers and window boxes. Height: 25cm (10"). Spread: 15cm (6").

The fuchsia Duke of Wellington that arrived before the summer started has been very slow to grow! But.... look at it now in early October, with the beautiful flowers on it. These gorgeous Cox's Orange Pippin's that are ready to pick on the tree that was planted back on the 4th March.

Golden Lysimachia, Lysimachia punctata, Dotted Loosestrife, a Hardy Perennial that was NEW in 2013 arrived on the 28th September. A towering, elegant plant for the border that will bring some sunshine to your borders. Neat clumps of tall, elegant stems with striking yellow flowers are borne from mid-summer through until early autumn. Golden Lysimachia is great for difficult clay soils and shadier parts of the garden, thriving in damp borders, bog gardens or at the margins of a pond. Grow dotted loosestrife in woodland gardens or informal areas for a burst of late summer colour! Height: 90cm (35"). Spread: 60cm (24")

Aralia cordata "Sun King" (Udo, Japanese Spikenard, a Hardy Perennial arrrived on the 12th September. A spectacular hardy herbaceous perennial with stunning bright gold spring foliage that appears to glow as dusk falls. By summer the leaves of Aralia cordata 'Sun King' will turn an amazing shade of citrus green, and tall spikes bearing large racemes of white flowers tower above the foliage. As the flowers fade, this superb plant produces purple-black berries that extend the season of interest. The curious glowing foliage and impressive upright stature of Aralia cordata makes this a spectacular focal point for shady garden borders. Height and spread: 1m (39"). Not decided yet where to place it!

These arrived on the 19th September! Versatile and resilient, hardy Osteospermums will thrive in hot, dry, neglected conditions, yet remain some of longest-flowering plants in the garden! Expect vibrant summer colour and weed suppressing ground cover from these easy to grow, sun loving Cape Daisies. Height: 15cm (6"). Spread: 90cm (36"). Collection comprises: Osteospermum ‘Snow Pixie’ - A perfect contrast to its purple-pink coloured cousins, sporting clean, white petals with a golden yellow eye. Osteospermum ‘Tresco Purple’ - Bold pink daisy flowers open every morning to greet the sun. Osteospermum jucundum var. compactum - Irrepressibly cheerful, bright pink daisy flowers smother carpets of low growing foliage.

On the 8th May 10 pots of Physalis Golden Berry arrived. Golden Berry, also known as the Cape gooseberry, is an exciting addition to the kitchen garden. Tall, bushy plants produce golden berries enclosed in attractive papery cases, similar to Chinese lanterns. As you can see, several of mine are thriving in the cottage beds in the garden and starting to produce fruit in early September!

On 19th July the final plants arrived for this years trial! Begonia x tuberhybrida 'Apricot Shades Improved' F1 Hybrid Half-hardy Perennial. They arrived in pretty bad shape but here you can see they now look quite stunning with some tender loving care in the early September sunshine!

Above are the latest pictures taken of the Peruvian Tree Lily which still looks fabulous in early September. The centre shot is of the pot containing the plants and the left image is "firecrest" and the right one "flamingo".

On August 2nd, one of the Dianthus picotee, which arrived in late April have now flowered, looking stunning on the right. while on the left, the foxglove Dalmatian Peach, which arrived back in March have finally flowered and looks amazing!

By 28th July the dahlia fire and ice flowers are looking really stunning and the Peruvian Tree Lily are starting to flower really well!

On the 20th July, the Tree Lily Leopard Lionheart, received on the 10th April, burst out with these 2 gorgeous flowers.

On 19th July the final plants arrived for this years trial! Begonia x tuberhybrida 'Apricot Shades Improved' F1 Hybrid Half-hardy Perennial. T&M say take the hard work out of creating beautiful baskets this summer! Filled with customer favourite Begonia ‘Apricot Shades Improved’, these pre-planted hanging baskets will keep blooming whatever the weather! Large, cascading double blooms in sunshine shades of apricot and lemon will pour from your baskets from July to October. Two 27cm hanging baskets are supplied each containing compost and pre-planted with 3 plants of Begonia 'Apricot Shades Improved'. Flowering Period:July, August, September, October. Position:sun or semi shade, dappled shade.

These are OK now but arrived very badly damaged with none of the plants still in the compost in the basket, obviously having been thrown around in the mail! Still, managed to salvage them as you see. So let's see how they grow!

My friend, Clare , who had the edamame beans has sent a picture of them on 19th July looking very healthy indeed! Thanks Clare!

Tree Lily Leopard Lionheart, received on the 10th April, has now got flower buds forming on the three stems. The Dahlia Fire & Ice, also received in april, have now started to flower as this great picture shows. Peruvian Tree Lily, Alstroemeria 'Everest Collection' received on 29th May are now just beginning to bud and will soon be flowering.

On the 21st June the penultimate trail plants arrived, Perennial Sunflower maximiliani 10 x 21mm plugs. Sunflower maximiliani Helianthus maximiliani, Maximilian Sunflower a Hardy Perennial. Often known as the Maximilian Sunflower, this attractive species produces masses of golden yellow, 7cm (3”) wide blooms all the way up the tall stems, which have a sweet chocolate fragrance. Perennial sunflower Helianthus maximiliani makes a stunning addition to the back of borders and a good late summer food source for both birds and butterflies. Height: 250cm (98”). Spread: 100cm (39”). They look very fragile on arrival but let's see what they can do!

Tree Lily Leopard Lionheart is now about 20 inches tall and looking good!. More strawberries are no growing on the Mount Everest. Rose Garden Party is well established in several parts of the garden and has flowered well so far!
The Physallis Golden Berry now becoming more established and about 9 inches tall Dahlia Fire & Ice plants bushing out and must soon be ready to flower. Foxglove Dalmatian peach starting to grow taller.
Cox's Orange Pippin showing new fruit growing now!. Fuchsia Duke of Wellington now about 12 inches tall but no flowers yet! Dianthus "Picotee" are now bushing out as well but still to flower.
Peruvian Tree Lily received 29th May looking good! Blueberry "Pinkberry" starting to bush out. Reine Claude Plum Tree bushing out but no fruit developing yet!
The foxglove Dalmatian Peach has now become established enough to be planted out in the garden and they are in a row at the very top of the garden, in the new courtyard patio area by the studio. As you can see we now have our first strawberry Mount Everest! The viola Unique collection have come on in leaps and bounds now and look really lovely in the garden, this one peeping out around heuchera Fire Chief!

The edamame beans which my friend Clare took, as I did not have the space to grow, has now sent a picture of how they are doing! You can see on the left that they have soon started to grow and are doing well, more to follow!

The dianthus picotee which were some of the first plants to arrive are now starting to become established in the garden around the pond in the grey slate.

Lots more growth to now (29 May) to the Peruvian Tree Lily, Alstroemeria 'Everest Collection' received on the 29th April, they will look fabulous Located in a pot on the patio at the rear of the house! The delosperma were planted out on the grass bank at the front of the house and 2 stunning flowers have now appeared! The Blueberry 'Pinkberry', Vaccinium's received on 22nd April are now showing signs of more growth on 29th May. They too, are in a pot on the patio at the back of the house!

The Delosperma hardy ice plant, 30MM PLUG X 20 arrived on the 22nd May as you can see on the left! The fleshy creeping stems of these hardy Ice Plants make ideal ground cover on sunny banks and poor stony soils. The showy daisy-like flowers of Delosperma create a carpet of intense colour, in exclusive new shades that will stop you in your tracks. This vibrant collection of drought tolerant Ice Plants is perfect for hot, dry areas where many other plants would fail to establish. Height: 10cm (4"). Spread: 60cm (24"). They are to be planted on the bank at the front of the house in full sun so fingers crossed! This was the only plant from my perspective which was a total disaster as not one survived!

Lots more growth to now (22 May) on the Tree Lily® 'Leopard Lion Heart', received on the 10th April, they will look fabulous Located in a pot on the patio at the rear of the house! The foxglove dalmatian peach has been a slow starter, but now on 22nd May looks as though they are going to start to grow! While the dahlia, fire and ice tubers are just beginning to poke their leaves above the gravel on the pot on the back patio.

The first flower from the Rose Garden Party that arrived back in April has now appeared (17th May) on one of the plants in the beach garden at the front of the house, next to the rowing boat! It looks great against the shingle! Check them out on the T&M site now to get some for yourself here The first flower has now appeared on one of the Viola Unique Collection plants that arrived on the 20th April!

Tony Collinson, who had the cloche to use in his garden, as I was not able to make use of it in mine, has sent another update on it's usefulness in his own garden near Haywards Heath. He says it's working really well, with lots of seeds coming through it's use. He's got onions, parsnips, cucumber, courgettes, pumpkin, tomatoes, cabbage and a few more benefiting from the cloche.

It has now been several weeks since some of the trial plants arrived and the weather here on the coast has not been very good, lots of cold winds from the sea and more rain than sun! However there is some steady growth in some of the plants we are trialling! On the left (14th May) the first flower from the Pelargonium, Rosebud Geranium, sybil pink, that arrived on the 25th April which looks divine! Located in a pot near point 4 on the plan.

The first growth to appear (14th May) on the Tree Lily® 'Leopard Lion Heart', received on the 10th April is promising! Located in a pot on the patio at the rear of the house! The Rose Garden Party has been planted in several places in the garden but this example, just starting to flower is planted in the bed marked 3 on the left of the garden along with some in the gravel on the beach garden at the front of the house! The fuchsia, Duke Of Wellington which arrived on the 15th March, has not grown that much but has now been planted out and this example is again located in the bed marked 3 on the plan.
The strawberries that arrived on the 10th April are already forming small fruits! I have decided to keep them in the the greenhouse, This picture taken 14th May. The Cox's Orange Pippin has lots of blossom forming. It arrived on the 4th March it has been in the ground 10 weeks now and blossom and fruit are starting to form! Picture taken 14th May. Finally Reine Claude plum tree has now started to show some real growth but no blossom yet! Picture 14th May

On the 8th May 10 pots of Physalis Golden Berry arrived. Golden Berry, also known as the Cape gooseberry, is an exciting addition to the kitchen garden. Tall, bushy plants produce golden berries enclosed in attractive papery cases, similar to Chinese lanterns. The berries, which are produced from early autumn, are similar to a ripe cherry tomato in texture and the flavour is sweet but tart, perfect in fruit salads, jams or as an eye-catching garnish! Physalis peruviana is half-hardy so is normally grown as an annual plant in the UK. Height and spread: 120cm (47").
Let's see how they do in my coastal plot! They have been planted in Beds 1, 2 and 3.

The rose, "Garden party", the fuchsia "Duke of Wellington and the dianthus picotee have all been planted outside now! The tree lily Leopard Lionheart has already started to push up above the soil in the pot. More to follow next week!

The Cox's Orange Pippin is looking good after arriving on the 4th March it has been in the ground 8 weeks now and blosson and fruit are starting to form! Picture taken 2nd May. The strawberries that arrived on the 10th April are already forming small fruits! They have been in the greenhouse since arrival. Picture 2nd May. Finally Reine Claude plum tree is a little behind the apple tree but still showing good growth over 8 weeks. Picture 2nd May

On the 29th April 6 Peruvian Tree Lily, Alstroemeria 'Everest Collection', s hardy Perennial that is new in 2013 arrived. They should create a floral sculpture on the patio with these incredible Peruvian Lilies. Alstroemeria ‘Everest Collection’ combines the best tall varieties that will knit together and keep growing skywards. Support them with climbing frame for the most impressive display. With so many long-stemmed blooms, I will never be short of cut flowers to add to magnificent bouquets. Height: 140cm (71"). Spread: 75cm (30"). Well that's what it says "on the tin", let's wait and see.

On the 25th April a pack of 5 geranium plugs arrived. Pelargonium, Rosebud Geranium, Half-hardy Perennials. The full, rounded buds of Rosebud Geranium resemble dainty roses when they first break open, then cluster together to form a pretty posy. This vigorous, trailing variety has the exceptional garden performance of other ivy-leaf geraniums, but their unique flower form truly sets them apart. With regular deadheading, they will spill from windowboxes, containers, and hanging baskets, blooming profusely throughout the summer. Trails to: 45cm (18”). There was Red Sybil, Blue Sybil, Pink Sybil, Tommy and White Pearl!

On the 22nd April 3 Blueberry 'Pinkberry', Vaccinium, a Hardy Shrub arrived! The first ever pink blueberry This unique new variety provides year-round colour and interest in the garden - not to mention deliciously sweet fruit with a lovely firm texture. The pink-white, bell shaped flowers provide plenty of spring interest, followed by pale green fruits in summer, which quickly become dappled with pale pink and finally ripen to a deep glossy pink colour. As the autumn approaches, the leaves turn bright orange, fading to deep red, before falling to reveal an attractive framework of dusky red-brown winter branches. As with all blueberry bushes, ‘Pinkberry’ is self-fertile but will produce a bigger crop if a second blueberry plant is present as a pollinator. Height and spread: 150cm (59").Estimated time to cropping once planted: 4-8 months. Estimated time to best yields: 28-32 months. It will be interesting to see how they grow in this seaside garden. The plants became well established but we saw no fruit at all this summer.

On the 20th April the Viola Unique Collection 9 x 21mm Plugs were delivered and you can see them on the left after unpacking. The Viola 'Unique Collection' Pansy is a Hardy Perennial NEW in 2013. These are all summer flowering violas. Summer-flowering violas are true border 'stalwarts' and come in many shapes, sizes and colours. Viola ‘Unique Collection’ combines 3 dainty varieties in pretty coordinating shades of purple, lilac and gold. These reliable little violas will brighten up your garden from summer, right the way through until autumn. Perfect for adding to mixed patio containers, flower pouches® beds and borders. Height: 20cm (8"). Spread: 23cm (9"). Flowering Period:May, June, July, August, September. Position:sun or semi shade. They did really well all summer right through!!

On the left the first growth, pictured on the 11th April, on the Plum Gauge Reinne Claude and the Cox's Orange Pippin, both planted on the 4th March.

On the 10th April I received the Strawberry Mount Everest 7cm pots and growpouch, Fragaria x ananassa, a hardy perennial (right). A unique climbing strawberry! This fast, strong growing variety will produce runners up to 1m (39”) in length that make a real talking point when trained up a trellis or obelisk climbing frame, or cascading from window boxes and hanging baskets.

Better still, Strawberry ‘Mount Everest’ is an ever-bearing variety that produces a delicious crop of medium sized, sweet, juicy fruits from June right through to September! Height: 1m (39”). Spread: 30cm (12”), fingers crossed! The picture on the left was taken just one week after arrival , so they are doing well! However they did not bear much fruit as the sumer rolled on!

On the right, also received on 10th April, 3 hardy bulbs of Tree Lily® 'Leopard Lion Heart', producing astonishing yellow flowers with large burgundy, almost black, centres adorn the tall stems of this exclusive new tree lily. In late summer this vigorous variety produces masses of trumpet shaped blooms atop elegant towering stems, making an exotic addition to garden borders, large patio containers and cut flower arrangements. Although Tree Lily 'Leopard Lion Heart' has no fragrance it more than makes up for it in flower power and is certain to be a talking point in your garden! Height: 1.8m (6'). Spread: 45cm (18"). Bulb Size: 16/18cm circumference.

I also received the 10 plugs of Geranium Trailing Rosebud Collection (left). a half-hardy perennial, we can look forward to captivating rosebud blooms opening to reveal large clusters of fully double flowers on vigorous, trailing plants. Their long flowering period and drought tolerance make these trailing Pelargoniums ideal for creating an enchanting display in window boxes, patio containers and hanging baskets that will last well into autumn. Trails to: 45cm (18"). Spread: 30cm (12")

The new dianthus picotee, as they arrived and one planted out in bed number 1 shown in the images lower down. It was much commented on after flowering in August.

Tony Collinson has had the cloche now for a few weeks and has been growing broad beans under its protection! He says that the broad beans have not come up yet in the square uncovered box on the left, which were planted the same time as the ones under the cloche. Good investment therefore to try the T&M cloche perhaps! Thanks to Tony for update.
Tony has now done his straw bale potatoes and seeds today under the cloche. He had been using it to cover his broad beans and cabbage which have done well, so he is now going to use them both on top of the straw bales until the seeds and potatoes come though will let me know how it works! An update on 22nd April indicates all going weel with the seeds planted under the cloche.
On the left one of the Rose "Garden Party" looking very healthy after only 1 week after potting up! On the right one a fuchsia "Duke of Wellington" standing proud!.
6 plugs of Geranium 'Rose Spark' Pelargonium an ivy-leaved Geranium, arrived on 23rd March. Seen above in packaging and after potted up in greenhouse. This gorgeous geranium produces hundreds of pretty, 'scarlet-smudged' blooms on gently trailing stems. With its vibrant flowers and dense, glossy green foliage, Geranium ‘Rose Spark’ is a particularly handsome variety. If we ever get a summer it will trail from hanging baskets and window boxes for an eye-catching summer display. Height: 30cm (12"). Spread: 35cm (14"). The 2 dahlia tubers (Fire & Ice) were finally delivered by a neighbour 3 streets away after they had gone to the wrong address. Here are the tubers and images of what the blooms should look like once out! I'll be planting them shortly. Half-hardy tuber beautiful red and white striped blooms with a bright golden eye that will really liven up your garden. Colourful Dahlia ‘Fire and Ice’ makes a spectacular show in sunny borders and a most distinctive cut flower. Height: 60cm (24"). Spread: 45cm (18") Received on the 26th March, 72 plugs of Rose "Garden Party", new for 2013. Liven up your bedding schemes with this charming miniature rose. Flurries of lightly scented, petite pink blooms appear from midsummer and keep coming over several months with regular deadheading. Bedding Rose ‘Garden Party’ makes a lovely centre piece for mixed hanging baskets and patio containers, or plant them en masse in beds and borders for maximum impact. Height: 25cm (10"). Spread: 35cm (14").This did very well in the garden throughout the summer.
On the left one of the Fuchsia "Duke of Wellington" looking very healthy after 2 weeks. On the right one of the foxgloves "Dalmatian peach" clearly showing new growth after 2 weeks in the greenhouse.
9 plugs of Fuchsia ‘Duke of Wellington’ arrived on the 15th March and it bears its flamboyant double blooms on long stems reaching up to 2m. This spectacular hardy fuchsia can be trained onto arches, fences and obelisks for an eye catching summer display that you will enjoy year after year. Height is difficult to gain here due to the wind so wull be interesting to see them growing. Seen in packaging and once planted up in pots in the greenhouse. Regrettably this did not do too well in the garden over the summer and I did not see any flowers. The edamame seeds have now arrived and I shall be giving some to a friend, Clare Mayers, who loves to grow vegetables and has the room in which to do it. Updates from Clare once established! 12 plugs of Foxglove 'Dalmatian Peach', (digitalis purpurea, a hardy biennial) with exquisite peachy trumpets arrived on the 15th March. The unusual colour makes this statuesque foxglove particularly eye-catching in cottage gardens and woodland borders. Let this short lived perennial seed about to create dramatic drifts and attract wildlife to its nectar rich flowers. Height: 50cm (20”). Above in packaging and once potted up. Fingers crossed again in the wind!
One of the first arrivals, a Plum Gage Reinne Claude, planted 4th March, space limited in garden for a tree because of the wind, planted in sunshine, in a corner close to house for protection. The cloche has now arrived but the nature of my garden, no exposed soil anywhere once all the planting is done, means I have nowhere to place it so have given it to Tony Collinson in Haywards Heath who is planning to grow courgettes. He's set it up in his garden as you see in the picture, more to follow! Another early arrival, a Cox's Orange Pippin, planted 4th March, I've had to place next to the pond because of the wind across the garden so hope it will get enough protection from the house.
Preparing the main garden beds in February Preparing the main garden beds in February Preparing the main garden beds in February

So, here goes let's get ready for a busy season and some lovely plants!