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2024 is our 14th year of opening for the scheme.

TOTAL VISITORS in 13 years 5906
2011 - 2023, 32,571

In 2024 all garden visits need to be booked privately with owner by emailing Geoff Stonebanks
click name.

2024 Openings

TheNational Garden Scheme published a lovely article on the 20th March about the garden featuring on BBC Gardeners' World on 22nd March.

This year the charity is marking its 40 year relationship with Macmillan Cancer Support and published a piece from me on my relationship with the 2 charities here.

We will be taking bookings between
1st June and 31st July!

Visitors through the scheme can book single visits or larger groups.

We can provide light lunches upon request.

For an additional 2.50 each, visitors can have a short talk about the creation of the garden, by the owner.

2024 cake choices are shown here

On 29th April, ITV Meridian came and filmed a short piece about the National Garden Scheme in Sussex at Driftwood and 2 other local gardens.

See the film and additional information on the ITV website by clicking image.

2023 Openings

Throughout 2023, we saw 78 visitors book through the scheme and raised 801.

There were no public open days in 2023, we opened by arrangement only.

Our first NGS visitors this year were 18 members of the Eastbourne Women in Fellowship Group. A great time was had by all and quite a few puchases made too.

2022 Openings

There were no public open days in 2022, we opened by arrangement only, from 1st June through until 31st August for individuals or groups up to 14.

Throughout 2022, we saw 84 visitors book through the scheme and raised 672.


Below are news items related to Driftwood and the scheme and further down, details of all openings since we began.

In December 2022, the scheme posted this news item of the development of the pond area. Click image to view.

In November 2021, the scheme posted a feature and video about creating the new sunken garden, including a time lapse video of the 10 day project, click image to view.

In November 2020, the scheme posted a feature and video about "My 120 house plants", click image to view.

In October 2020, the scheme posted a feature and video about "Putting the garden to bed", click image to view.

It was lovely to receive a 10 year award certificate and garden trowel, in 2020, acknowledging the years we have opened for the National Garden Scheme. In addition I was presented with an award from the Chairman of the scheme in recognition of "my exceptional contribution as a volunteer". See the certificate and personal letter above.

On 26th May 2020, a 4 minute film was made at Driftwood and broadcast by ITV Meridian about National Garden Scheme virtual tours.

The 15 minute film made in June 2015 by an American organisation, to promote the National Garden Scheme in the States was finally published in September 2016, see it below.

In my role as Publicity Officer for the National Garden Scheme in East & Mid Sussex, I can be heard with Joe Talbot on BBC Radio Sussex's Dig it programme once a month on a Sunday morning, usually the last Sunday of the month about 1340. All interviews and other Sussex media coverage can be seen and heard via our media page here.

Driftwood Garden first opened for the National Garden Scheme on 25th June 2011. In June 2012, Geoff Stonebanks was appointed an Assistant County Organiser for East & Mid Sussex (which he did until 2021) and in September 2012 their Publicity Officer up to the present day.

2021 Openings

Our third opening on the 1st August was much better, weatherwise, the sun shone most of the day. We were sold out and saw over 80 visitors. We raised 624 for the scheme and 100 for Macmillan through the raffle.

Our second opening on 13th July was a little better, weatherwise, the sun shone in the morning but it did rain early afternoon. 70 pre-paid visitors came to visit. We raised over 600 for the scheme and 160 for Macmillan through the raffle.

Our first opening since 2019 on 29th June saw a damp day. While it did not rain all the time it was muggy with occasional drizzle.

We had 14 visitors pre-booked in each of the hours from 11am to 4pm and it worked well. Rosa and Celia waited on at tables for tea and cakes as there was no access to the house! We raised 606 for the charity and a further 200 for Macmillan.

2020 Openings

All 2020 open dates were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A virtual tour of the garden was published on the NGS website on 23rd April.

This link leads to a short film shown on BBC SE Today on 22nd April which includes a piece with me at Driftwood, talking about the National Garden Scheme.

2019 Openings

The 2nd opening on 9th July openings saw 177 visitors generate 1284 for the scheme. Fortunately the weather held all day and we saw many familiar faces, the little doggies, and some new ones.

The National Garden Scheme published a great feature online just before our second opening, about my coming to gardening late in life! Click the image to read the piece.

Our first of 2 openings saw 167 visitors generate 1267 for the scheme. The weather the day before had been dreadful but improved greatly before we opened at 11am on the 25th.

2018 Openings

Our final 2018 opening was on the 5th August and it was a record breaking day with 279 visitors helping us to raise 1765 for the charity.

We saw 100 visitors in the first hour alone. A great way to end the season. They were queuing up to get in at 1145 and many had traveled long distances.

Our third opening on 24th July was as scorcher of a day, a bit too hot to sit out and eat cake! We still raised 690 for the scheme and saw 115 visitors. They were queuing up to get in at one point!

Our second opening on 10th July was another glorious day with over 1000 visitors raising 820 for the charity.

Our first 2018 opening was a little grey but warm and we saw visitors from the States who wanted to buy the aprons worn by brand-new helpers, Mary and Sally. 91-year old Mum, Barbara, was on hand to take the money at the gate too.

2017 Openings

The National Garden Scheme launched a new initiative between 12th and 19th August called Gardens and Health. We opened Driftwood as part of the initiative and I filmed this short video.

In April 2017 the National Garden Scheme ran a joint promotion with Macmillan Cancer Support on the benefits of gardening and health. I shot a short video for them which you can see on the left!

As part of the launch of the new web site in March 2017, a feature on Geoff as a garden owner appeared on the National Garden Scheme website which you can read by clicking the image to the right.

We had the second highest visitor number for an open day on the 6th August, 230 people came. We raised 1090 for the charity and once again, saw visitors from far afield. Over 70% were visiting for the very first time too!

Visitors came from near and far but the 2 on the left, Julia and Caroline saw the feature on the garden in Coast magazine and drove all the way from North London to visit.

We opened again on 25th July and the weather was much better. We saw over 170 visitors and my mother, Barbara was on hand to sell the tickets and friend Diane Marquess helped out in the kitchen.

We still managed to raise 503, helped by a visit from the Eastbourne Rainbow Group. Many visitors took tea and cake sheltered by an umberella!

Above, our second opening on the 11th July was plagued by rain. Whilst it did hold off for some of the morning it made up for it in the late afternoon and certainly reduced our visitor numbers.

Our first opening on 20th June was one of the hottest days of the year and 101 visitors braved the excessive heat to come and see the garden.

We raised 501 and had visitors who had driven all the way from Essex! One the left Wendy Everest and Celia Hughes helping in the kitchen. On the right, 2 visitors take respite under an umberella in the beach garden from the incessant heat!

The scheme is celebrating a "Gardens & Health" week in August and Driftwood will open for a private function, by invitation only, between 2 and 5 pm on Saturday 12th August. We will have 2 groups visiting, a local autism group and a dementia group, both linked to local MP, Maria Caulfield.

2016 Openings

This years openings were on 9th June, 28th June, 19th July and 31st July.

On the 31st July, the final National Garden Scheme opening for 2016, we had an incredible day, with 231 visitors raising 1397 for the charity. Due to it being promoted in the Telegraph, we had visitors from far and wide!

On the left there was Simeon and Mary Hopkins from Aldwick in West Sussex and on the right Barrie and Chris Hewitt from Southampton. .

On the 19th June July it was the hottest day of the year, over 30 degrees at times, and we only had 123 visitors as it was just to hot to wander around with little shade to sit and have tea. Those that did come enjoyed themselves though.

On the 29th June Jean Griffin, the gardening expert from BBC Sussex's Dig It, was in the garden to answer visitor's questions We had a great day with lots of visitors and raised 728 for the NGS,

On the 9th June Georgia Paton, the Community Fundraiser from Marie Curie came to visit us and see how the money was being raised! We had a great day and raised 602 for the National Garden Scheme.

2015 Openings

This fabulous image of Driftwood, taken by Vanessa C Clark in 2015, appeared in the Gardens to Visit 2016 and appears for August in the Macmillan Cancer Support's 2017 calendar. We celebrated 5 years of opening the the National Garden Scheme in 2015 which was recognised by the certificate on the right and a letter from the Chairman which can be read HERE

On the 9th August the visitors just kept coming with 279 coming to see the garden, many for the first time too. Graham Barber and wife Elaine

were on hand to provide music from the 1920's to the 1940's on vintage gramaphones as well. Visitors all enjoyed the tea and cakes on offer despite us running out and having to buy replacements.

Over 150 portions of cake were sold. Karen and Gordon on the right had driven all the way from Warwickshire to see the garden after Karen followed it on Twitter! We raised an incredible 1419.

Jean Griffin, who regularly offers gardening advice on BBC Sussex's Dig It show with Joe Talbot very kindly agreed to answer visitors queries in the garden on the 7th July. Click her name to learn more about Jean.

She sat in the garden and spoke to many visitors. We raised 744 for the National Garden Scheme and had 130 visitors despite the high winds all day.

When we opened on the 25th June an American film crew came to film the preparation for the day and interviewed me about my involvement and my own garden development. Top left Celia Hughes and Rosa Botterill who helped in the kitchen. Images of visitors taking tea and shots and the crew filming the garden and interviewing me. Cameras were placed on the studio roof for the morning to capture visitors movements around the garden! We raised a wonderful 783.50 from the day.

9th June saw the first garden opening of the season! Linda Wallraven and Liz Holland were on hand to welcome visitors and sell the raffle tickets for Macmillan.

We raised a total of 793 despite the chill in the air with a cold north east wind! The intrepid couple pictured on the right had driven all the way from Bournemouth to see the garden and others had driven down from Surrey too!

At all 2015 openings for the NGS there will be garden supports for sale by Chris Burchell Collins and sculpture by Paul Cox.

2014 Openings

Our final opening was on the 3rd August and Jean Griffin, the gardening expert (pictured left) for BBC Sussex's Dig It programme was in the garden answering visitors gardening queries. There were over 250 visitors and we raised 1104.

We opened for the 3rd time in 2014 on the 17th July and it was a gorgeous day!

Probably too hot for garden visiting but nonetheless we saw 107 visitors and raised exactly the same as on the 1st July! 502. This time we were able to display that we had appeared on Good Morning Britain and some visitor had come as a result of seeing it on the TV show! Some even wanted to see the Laura gnome!

Opening on the 1st July it was a gorgeous day and we raised 502! Elaine-Marie Houghton said in the visitors' book, "Beautiful and inspiring full of interesting and artistic touches, and wonderful planting!" Many visitors enjoyed the home made teas too!

The 10th of June was a glorious day for our first opening for the National Garden Schemein 2014! 176 visitors came from far and wide to see the garden, many repeat visits, but also many new ones too, some from many miles from Seaford. Some from Essex and some from Norfolk!

We raised an incredible 792, not bad for a small garden on a Tuesday! D Reed said in the visitors' book, "Relaxes the eyes, eases the heart, wonderful"

Listed as one of 25 glorious gardens to see in Sussex in a list published by Sussex Life Magazine in May 2014.

I was lucky enough to meet up with Joe Swift at the Yellow Book launch in April.

In 2014 the garden opened 4 times for the National Garden Scheme, on 10th June, 1st & 17th July and 3rd August. It was the first year the garden had opened as a solo garden, no longer part of a group.

After my first year as Publicity Officer for the patch, the County Organiser, Irene Eltringham-Willson said "Thank you so much for all your inspirational work on publicity, not to mention opening Driftwood and masterminding the Seaford/Bishopstone Group and Asst County Organiser work!"

2013 Openings

In 2013, Driftwood opened as a single garden on Tuesday 2nd July and Sunday 11th August. Additionally it opened as part of the Seaford and Bishopstone Group on the weekend of 15th and 16th June and on Sunday 21st July.

Following her visit on the 11th August, Jennifer Pulling from Shoreham by Sea wrote in the visitor's book, "Overwhelmed by the transformation. A joy to behold!" While Bridget McGee wrote, "Awe inspiring, I thought I had no room left in my own garden! Now I realise it is half empty!"

The opening on the 21st July was one of the hottest days in Seaford and 285 visitors came to see the three gardens open as part of the group! Some great comments in our visitors book! "Your garden is fabulous" said Kathy & Vernon Findlay, who went on to say "The most beautiful we have ever been to! (And we've done a few!!)" While Sally Brearley echoed this view with "Wonderful garden - best ever seen!"

Thanks so much to all our helpers for coping with the heat and the numbers!

Tuesday 2nd July was a cool, dreary day weather wise, however 172 visitors turned out to see the garden, some queuing at 1045 to get in! The weather held for all but the final hour and we raised an amazing 712 for the National Garden Scheme on a weekday! Not possible without great friends assisting, Celia Hughes, Richard Walsh, Clare Mayers and Sheila Thomas! Many visitors had also travelled many miles to see the garden!

Group of ladies enjoying tea and cakes
in the garden on 2nd July
View across the garden on 2nd July. Friends taking tea in the
summer house on 2nd July

The weekend of 15th/16th June saw the first ever National Gardens Festival Weekend with over 800 gardens open nationwide on these dates. We opened on Saturday 15th with 8 Sandgate Close and 1 Buckthorn Close (new for 2013) in Seaford and Barrack Cottage in Bishopstone Village and on Sunday 16th with 8 Sandgate Close and Elizabeth Cottage, a new garden for 2013.

Across the 5 gardens we took almost 2600 for the NGS charities. Many thanks to all those involved.

Ray & Christine Forrest enjoying
tea by the pond.
View across the garden. My mother, Barbara, taking the money in the porch.