A major and costly redesign was initiated to the area at the back of the house in the autumn of 2021, with new sunken garden (left) created and then in the autumn of 2022, the pond (right) replaced with new patio, corten steel wall and raised pond. You can see all the 2021 changes from start to finish by clicking here.

At the back, (plan to left) Driftwood is an immaculate, small but amazing, exposed yet tranquil, gem of a garden. There are two distinct halves at the back and a coastal seaside garden with views of the sea at the front, (plan to right). This densely packed plot, with no exposed soil, or lawn, is home to over 1600 different varieties of plants and shrubs all vying for your attention.

In May 2020, ITV Meridian filmed the garden with a drone camera and 2 aerial shots of both front and back garden can be seen below.

In September 2017, a friend flew over the garden in a light aeroplane and took some photos of the garden in relation to its surroundings! See image to left. On the right, an image taken by Helo's Pics in July 2023 with a drone camera too.

At the back, close to the house, during the summer, you used to be able to think yourself in a small cottage garden with masses of colour around you. The area was full of pots containing camellias, fuchsias, heucheras, small shrubs and many bedding plants, along with several cottage garden perennial borders and plants specifically chosen for a coastal garden. This all changed for 2022/23 with a brand new sunken patio created for drought tolerant succulents and other plants. Additionally the pond was filled in and a new area created with corten steel wall, raised corten steel pond and Indian sandstone patio.

At the top of the garden it is more rugged and exposed to the sea winds, where you can relax and take in the view. There are 5 gravel beds and an array of coastal plants and rusted ironworks able to withstand the strong south westerly winds. A mini courtyard garden sits in front of the studio with topiary and box hedging. The sound of flowing water, echoes across the garden.

In the front, there is a beautiful seaside garden complete with groynes, small rowing boat, floats and lobster pots. Lots of small perennials and seaside plants peep out from the many marine objects. Visitors can sit on the beach garden and enjoy their tea and cakes overlooking the sea or stand on the jetty with water beneath!

Getting ready for 2024 Openings

The only work undertaken in readiness for 2024 was the installation of a pair of French windows in a spare bedroom, opening out onto the railways sleeper patio.

Getting ready for 2023 Openings

In November I arranged for the same team who completed the work last autumn to come and bring to life a drawing I had made for a new patio area adjacent to the shed. I had to clear the area in preparation and have the side of the shed repaired in readiness. You can view the preparation and installation from beginning to end here.

The 9 images below, from bottom left to top left reflect the different stages of the work undertaken.

During the summer of 2022 it was clear that the rowing boat in the beach garden would not see out another winter. As soon as I began to move it, the whole frame disintegrated, as you can see from the first image. A visitor generously offered to donate a boat, no longer needed, from their garden. I arranged to have it collected and installed in early September, after our garden openings.

Getting ready for 2022 Openings
You can see all the redesign changes for 2022, from start to finish by clicking here.

Once completed, a new electrical circuit was installed providing lighting the the area and aa new double socket.
The central steps had the rotting raised beds removed and the area neatened up with raised brickwork and fewer containers. The patio was extended to the rear of the sleepers with a new bed installed
The area was dug out with a mini digger and the area bound back with old railway sleepers placed on end. A sandstone circle patio was then laid.
In order to create more space at the back of the house a large area was dug out to create a large patio immediately behind the house. All the large containers and raised beds on the back wall of the house were removed and a small digger was brought in to achieve the desired new area. The three images below show the narrow patio after all containers removed.
In the autumn of 2021, I took the decision to make significant changes to the garden. The time and energy taken to keep the garden watered with it 300 containers was taking its toll. I decided I needed to significantly reduce the amount of annuals used both in raised beds and pots. All the raised beds that were installed in 2012 around the central steps were beginning to rot, so I decided to remove them and expose the circular steps again. You can see the before and after shots below. Some tidying up of brick edging was also completed. New planting around them will be completed in the Spring of 2022.
Getting ready for 2021 Openings
A new rear fence and bamboo trellis was installed behind the garden studio in the Winter (right), improving the security and longevity of the rear boundary. The area to the right of the studio was resurfaced in the Spring too with a 2-tier pebbled area.
Getting ready for 2020 Openings
Due to an injury in late Autumn 2019 and a subsequent tearing my Achilles tendon in February 2020, coupled with the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic, there were no changes made to the garden as the decision was made early on that we would not be able to open at all, due to the virus, this year!
Getting ready for 2019 Openings
Repair work done to central steps, raised beds. Wood had rotted and was replaced with 3 screens used to border the beds and give a new look.
Major job completed this month with both the front and side of the house renovated and then treated with a 15 year warranty finish to protect from the weather. All the planting pulled back and containers removed for access and now all back in place.

2 new screens from Screen With Envy have now been installed on the patio behind the house. Plus, 2 brand new wibbly wobbly metal pieces from Kev Colbear Designs now permanently placed in the garden for the new season.

The reaction to all the succulents in the garden in the Summer of 2018 mad eme decide to give over a larger area to them in 2019. I dug up one of the beds near the house and laid it over with gravel so that I can place pots of agaves and aeoniums on it around the cow next summer.

Getting ready for 2018 Openings
I saw a wonderful wibbly wobbly fence on social media and decided I had to have one for the beach garden. I commissioned Kevin Colbear, in Suffolk, to make me one and had it delivered and installed in April. The finished product looks amazing!
The grey slate in front of the shed dood was starting to look untidy, so I bought some concrete railway sleeper slabs and had them laid. The whole area now looks much neater. This coupled with the purchase of some new planters from primrose, who generously let me but at half price and then gave me a free one too!
AIn the front garden the sunflower cane fencing had taken a real beating with the winds through the winter months. I decided to have asmall picket fence put up in its place which look great!
Getting ready for 2017 Openings
At the top of the garden the plant selling area was covered with shingle which always moved down the slope! I installed some layered wooden steps up the area to hold it all in place!
With the build of an office in next door's garden, the sight of it above the wall proved too much in drawing the eye to it so I fitted a screen to help it disappear. Meanwhile lower down the garden I decided to create a small raised bed for cacti to display in the Summer. I'll be planting it up later in the year ready for opening in June!
In the build up to 2017 I decided to replant one of the borders along the fence, as the planting had begun to die off. So, in December 2016 I bought two, 8 year root ball, Holly shrubs to cover the fence. More work will be done in the plant selling area in the Spring too!
Getting ready for 2016 Openings
We've now fitted a rather grand rope bannister to the steps at the front of the house to aid visitors, along with a wooden handrail fixed to the left hand wall on the steep drive to assist visitors too.
I was given these lovely metal gates and they have been cut down and positioned by the gravel bed at the top of the garden, they look quite amazing as you can see. They help create the effect of moving between garden rooms. I am having an office built in the loft of the house so unlikely any other changes will be made to the garden before next season other than moving plants around.
Getting ready for 2015 Openings
In February 2015 the builders put in the new fence on the right hand side of the garden (viewed from neighbours' garden in centre) and built and erected the new bespoke trellis at the back of the shed to help screen the road from the garden after the tree was removed! I also had an extra level of bricks put on the edge to the central path.
On 25th November the builders removed the old fence and started to replace it with a 7 foot brick wall between the tree and the shed and new fencing to the end fo the garden. The first 3rd and 4th images taken from next doors garden.

A friend gave me the fireplace surround and I am going to plant a grate up with flowers to put in it during the summer. The brick wall now looks great with the louvred french mirror window in situ!

The fence at the top of the garden is almost falling down and I have decided to have a 6 foot brick wall built between the tree and the summer house with the remainder being replaced by a new fence. So, here are the preparations for the work to be done later this year!

With the removal of the tree in next doors garden back in September I needed to find a way to screen the road from the view of visitors on the left of the garden! Stage 1 has been the planting of a Sorbus Intermedia Brouwers. As you can see, once in leaf it will go some way to obscuring the road. Stage 2 will follow later this year or early next!

Getting ready for 2014 Openings

There was a beautiful sunny day on the 16th February. Busy day catching up! The escalonia hedge in front of the studio was infected with leaf spot last year but too late to take it out before we opened! So, it had to come out this year and you can see the before and after here! New hedge of laurel planted up fter the studio had been sanded and painted!

In order to provide some additional storage space and to protect some of the potted plants through the winter we have had a roof put over the side alley of the house. Here you can see work starting on the frame and on the right, already full of plants furniture and 2 bikes! Visitors will still be able to exit the garden, at busy times, through the covered area.
As you can now see, we have installed a rope bannister up the side of the steps at the front of the house to help visitors overcome the steep entrance and steps to the garden.
With the installation of the new back porch the view from the kitchen was obscured witht he tall planting so it has been changed and plants dug out to lower the planting scheme and improve the view from the house! The picture to the left shows the area in July 2013 and the shot to the right after being dug out and replanted with lots of tulip bulbs and some colour for the winter as well as some hardy geraniums for the summer.!

The back porch has been replaced and extended this autumn! Here you see it cleared ready to be knocked down (left) competely removed (centre) and and replaced with a new structure and sliding french windows (right)! Should make serving tea and coffee easier in 2014.

Getting ready for 2013 Openings
The pond area had a spruce up in April 2013 as all the aubretia planted as a back drop had died off and exposed the unattractive back and sides to pond area, as seen on the right! I purchased a woolly pocket and secured it to the back of the pond, allowing me to plant it up with more aubretia and some euphorbia x martini, just need to wait for it to tumble over the fabric of the pocket now!
Work was undertaken in the Autumn/Winter of 2012/13, to redesign the area at the front of the house under the bay window to accommodate a small jetty with water below.
Below you can see what the area looked like before work began, midway with the frame in place for the decking and when complete. More work will be done on the planting in the spring.
The tired look around the studio and greenhouse has been given a lift over the winter to create a small courtyard garden with a topiary squirrel and box hedging has been added along with box topiary cones and balls in terracotta pots. Below you can see what it looked like with the orange bark chipings before work started and then cleared out and finally with the lovely new brick formed patio and path, making the area level outside the studio and sloping down past the greenhouse! I hope to fill the bed on the left with penstemons behind the dwarf box hedge.
Getting ready for 2012 Openings
All the pots with perennials and bedding plants have now been removed from the area by the steps in the centre of the back garden and 5 new, small, raised beds have been built. You can see the pictures here of before and after and how they have been planted for the winter.
Some of the planting will be changed in the spring, before we open again next year. Lots of bedding plants will be put into the new beds so that they will take on a look of a mass of colour and you will not be able to see the wooden beds for flowers.

The front garden has now been landscaped and below you see three views of the finished coastal garden. The three fish crates in the top right hand corner of the picture on the right were all used by my father on the docks in Fleetwood in the 1950's and are stamped with my grandfather's name, C.F. Stonebanks Ltd. There is still more planting to do throughout the winter but the main work has now been completed. On the right a view out to sea!

On the right is the old wooden dinghy we bought, among the railway sleepers, as the work was being done to remove the old lawn before transforming it to a coastal gravel garden.
In late September 2011 work was completed on the front garden to transform it from a lawned area to a coastal garden compete with rowing boat and marine objects. On the left is how the front garden looked before work started and on the right after the lawn had been killed off and work had started.
Once we had finished Artwave in 2011, I began work to redevelop the area for selling plants for 2012. Either side you can see the new purpose built shelves that have been built at the top of the garden making it much easier to display and select the plants that will be on sale again.
Getting ready for 2011 Openings
Work was undertaken in the Autumn of 2010, to redesign the area adjacent to the pond and the shed, the building of a raised flower bed on the patio behind the house and new edging up the side of the house to the entrance of the garden. Pictures below. Hector, our 60 year old tortoise, had his personal garden landscaped as well and the green door has had a new arch put up around it.
Summer of 2010, check out the garden images page, accessed from the home page, for more shots of the garden last year.
Getting ready for 2010 Openings
In late 2009 and early 2010, I worked on the remaining lawn area on the left of the garden. I replaced it with a small sun terrace and raised brick border along with a lower railway sleeper area to create a coastal, gravel, cottage garden. The green door folly was built and I planted the raised beds in spring 2010, which look fabulous in June. See 3 pictures above of this work.
Getting ready for 2009 Openings
............................. Summer 2009.
In the autumn of 2008 I bought some old railway sleepers and landscaped the central part of the garden with a coastal theme. They were very hard to position and had to be cut with a chain saw to get them in situ. I then covered the remains of the lawn with bark chips as a temporary measure.
..................and Summer 2008.
.........and again in the summer of 2007 with the summer house installed.
The buildings, Garden Studio, greenhouse and garden shed were installed very quickly and the Summer House, aptly named “Dad’s Place”, (although originally Ron's Place) as my father gave me the money to buy it was the last building to be installed. You can see him in it to the right,with my mother just before he died in 2007.
Some of the work completed in the Winter of 2006 and Spring of 2007 to build the main patios at the top of the garden either side and below.
.........and again in the summer of 2006.
The weather conditions in Seaford, along with the salt laden south westerly winds, soon meant that the top half of the garden needed take on a coastal rather than a cottage garden design and structure!
Here you can see the garden from the roughly the same perspective in the summer of 2005.
The original garden sloped from bottom right to top left and had 2 lawns with borders and a derelict pond. The lawn was difficult to mow as there were no level surfaces. I had transported over 150 pots of plants from my container garden in North London in a separate removal van in 2004 and had learnt some hard lessons that first winter. Over half the plants were killed by the harsh conditions here on the coast.
The pictures to the left and right were taken soon after we moved in during September 2004. Work proper didn't begin until 2007. There was never any grand plan. It has just developed organically year on year. Initially I appointed a garden designer, but, after seeing his first design cut, I decided I could do it better myself and cut my losses.

Blog for Thompson & Morgan on 10 years of opening.

In January 2016 I wrote a blog for Thompson & Morgan about photographs taken from the same point in the garden over a 10 year period after we moved here in 2004. You can see them all together below starting from 2004, top left, through to 2014, bottom right.

The words from the blog are below the images.

It can be magical, inspiring or just plain stupid, to take photos from the same point in your garden over a 10-year period. I recently posted some on social media and had some amazing reaction from people saying they had been inspired to see the changes over the years. So, above, is a snapshot across 10 years, taken by me around the pond looking up the back garden.

The first from 2004, the year we moved in, shows a very green but plain plot. By 2005 I had begun to tidy the area, neatened the edges of the lawn and moved a few shrubs around as well as added a few containers. I started with many new shrubs in containers, giving me the flexibility to place them around the garden until such time as I had a final plan in my head. A new shed didn't go amiss too as well as a greenhouse and a studio!

Not a trained gardener, I simply did what I thought was right for the exposed seaside slope. I have done nothing to improve the chalky ground, not knowing any better. I started to use structures to help get some height as the salt laden winds blow with such force across the garden, doing much damage. Having appointed a garden designer in 2007, I soon realised that maybe I was better cutting my losses and having a go myself. So, in the spring of that year a summer house and new patio went in at the top of the garden. This was much needed as the sloping garden needed a level area upon which to put a table and chairs. I had killed off the lawn and temporarily covered it with bark chip to help create a totally new look until I could afford to move to the next stage. A grape vine was put in to cover the shed.

2008 saw more work done around the pond, digging out old shrubs and putting in new plants. My ultimate aim was to have no exposed soil across the whole garden, requiring me to put as many plants in as I could! By 2009 it was well stocked and opened up to the public for the very first time, which then inspired me to try and make it look a little different each year by moving plants around and changing the look of the garden rooms I was beginning to create. In 2010 the exit area from the pond was sealed off with a low wall and created the pond room which has become one of my favourite areas of the garden, a visitor this year, Eileen Wottsford, said absolutely magical garden, full of original ideas and inspirations.

More plants had gone in around the pond 2 pairs of tall rusted metal arches had helped create some more height and I was beginning to achieve the overall look I was seeking. Every year I just did what felt right, there was never any grand plan, each garden room developed as I went along. In 2011 the area by the shed and beyond the bench were crammed full of plants finally creating the illusion of a garden room. The rapid growth of the grape vine across the shed helped too. This was the year I was accepted into the Yellow Book by the NGS.

By the summer of 2012 the overall garden was really becoming quite special and looking very lush! This year it became one of the 4 finalists in the Daily Mail National Garden Competition as well as the overall winner of the Garden News Best Small Garden in the UK. Needless to say I was thrilled. Hamish Webb from the Mail said I've seen hundreds of gardens over the 21 years of judging the Daily Mail Competition and believe me, you are up there with the best of them. Head judge Tim Sharples said This bright, beach-inspired plot embraces its location with imaginative planting. I could not believe that my small seaside garden had succeeded in reaching the final of a national competition from over 1500 entries, let alone win outright the Garden News competition.

It just goes to show that you can do whatever you put your mind to, despite the challenging elements and lack of knowledge! By 2013 I had really become little more confident about what I was doing and was keen to show that anything is possible and the garden was featured in the Mail on Sunday too. The range of plants had increased significantly too, with over 500 on show. 2014 was a truly amazing year for the garden, it featured in a French national gardening magazine, 100 Idees Jardin in February, Garden Answers Magazine in May and on Good Morning Britain in July. 2015 was equally successful with features in the Sunday Telegraph in August and Daily Mail Weekend Magazine in June. You can see below how amazing the garden is looking each summer now. I never fail to be amazed by what visitors say and post on TripAdvisor. It makes me incredibly proud, so never doubt your own ability to create something special, just go for it.

Now, there does now seem to be a year go by without some coverage of the garden in media publications or online, check the media page for all coverage