Geoff Stonebank’s Driftwood Garden Column September 25, 2022

As the summer progressed it became very apparent that my trusty old wooden rowing boat was beginning to break up in the beach garden.

It was really just being held in place, propped up and supported by other sea objects surrounding it. I had bought it in late 2011 as the centerpiece of the front yard. Over time it was surrounded by plants and as it dissipated many of them began to grow through it. I had mentioned this in passing to an Eastbourne couple who had visited the garden this summer and they generously offered a replacement currently living in their garden which they no longer needed. The only problem was that it was slightly larger and made of fiberglass, not wood. After giving it some thought I decided to accept their very kind offer and arranged for the boat to be picked up and taken to Seaford. I just installed it in the garden and am so very happy with the finished look! I’ve accessorized it with many sea objects I already had in the garden and because it’s a close fit it looks like it’s been there forever when the planting brushes against it. It’s even possible to sit in it, as you can see.

One of the many plants fighting back is the beautiful bromeliad ‘Fascicularia bicolor’, also known as ‘Chilean hardy pineapple’. It is both an unusual and interesting plant that will be a talking point in any garden. This fabulously attractive, exotic plant is hardy down to -5°C and also very drought tolerant! Native to Chile, it is a rare and unusual plant that forms an impressive and sturdy mound of long, thin, grey-green leaves. In summer, the inner leaves turn bright red and a ball of bright blue and yellow flowers forms in the center of the mature plants. This striking color combination will make an amazing contrast to your autumn garden and add an exotic touch until November! It grows to around 50cm tall, making it perfect for containers or pots. Put her in a sunny spot on your patio and she will thrive for years. I have 3 of these and they are all planted in the beach garden next to the boat. Although ‘Fascicularia Bicolour’ is hardy, it benefits from shelter in the coldest winter weather, especially when wet.

We’re nearing the end of the open garden season, but the National Garden Scheme has just a few more gardens to offer readers. Tomorrow the 25th, the Old Vicarage in The Street, Washington will open its gates from 10:30am to 4:00pm. No reservation is required for this date. There are 8.5 acres of beautiful gardens to explore, fronted with topiary and a delightful water feature, while the back has new and old trees from the 19th century. Don’t miss the Japanese garden with waterfall and pond. Entry is £7 and full details can be found at I will also be live on BBC Sussex tomorrow and will be speaking to Joe Talbot about Dig it for the last time in 2022 at around 1:40pm! I will update listeners on the final gardens to open for the Sussex program this year. Why aren’t you listening?

One plant that is looking good in the back this week is Chlorophytum saundersiae ‘Starlight’

Anthericum, a hardy perennial better known to most of us as the hardy spider plant. She was also shortlisted for Chelsea Plant of the Year in 2019. It can be grown outdoors all year round, I have 2 of these in my back garden and love them. They have very elegant variegated leaves and starry white flowers appear throughout the summer. They really are ideal for planting in containers and mixed borders. Mine started life in a pot but now both live in the ground. This elegant, grass-like perennial forms a dense clump of slender, variegated leaves that shoot upward before arching gracefully at the tips. Unlike its better-known relative, the houseplant, ‘Starlight’ is hardy to -5°C, making it suitable for a sheltered spot outdoors. All summer long she produces starry white flowers sparkling at the tips of her long stems. Simply beautiful and able to offer excellent structure and texture. It grows up to 100 cm high. They grow best in any moist, fertile, well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade. They don’t like winter wet so put plants out of containers in an unheated greenhouse, we’re on chalk so I find mine to be fine in the soil over the winter months where they have been useful for the last 3 years.

Read more about Geoff’s garden HERE and at Geoff Stonebank’s Driftwood Garden Column September 25, 2022

Fry Electronics Team

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