Sunday 15 October 2023

Autumn exuberance post opening

A huge thank you to everyone who came to this years open garden! All in we had about 220 visitors and made about £3,600 for charity which was a new record for us. Thank you!

Special thanks go to the Secret Life Saxophone Quartet who played during the opening and really made it a special afternoon. They were fantastic, and played a great mix of songs including Copacabana and Life is a Cabaret....what more does a boy want! 

As always a big thank you to the 15+ people who helped out with the opening, including Alan who was again super generous donating lots of plants for the sale. 

A warm autumn has meant that the garden continues to crank up the lushness and exuberance to the max! The bananas are looking the best they have been, cannas continue to flower and the hardy gloxinia shines bright as the star of the October garden.

Gloxinia nemathanthodes

Begonia 'Torsa' whose leaves are bigger than my head!

Friday 18 August 2023

My garden open as part of the National Gardens Scheme: Sunday 3rd September 2023 11-4:30pm

It is that time of the year again! Come and visit the garden:

An exotic garden full of the exuberance of late summer inspired by travel in Southeast Asia. A lush and naturalistic jungle of big leafed plants, bold colours and shapes including cannas, banana trees, bamboos, dahlias, mature tetrapanax and towering paulownias.  


Huge ‘hidden’ garden, created in 2010 from buying derelict land which had been the bottom halves of two neighbour’s gardens gives the garden an unexpected size. 

Three ponds, a productive area and contemporary sunken terrace full of pampered prized plants. We deliver on the 'wow' factor with visitors being surprised by the size and scale of the garden and getting lost in the exotica! 


The lower lawn has lots of seating (30+) and hidden corners give space to sit and enjoy. Renowned for our plant sale, good teas, and home-made cakes. 


This year we have the Secret Life Saxophone Quartet playing from 2-3:30! 


We have been featured on TV on BBC Gardeners' World and BBC The Instant Gardener. Also featured in Garden News, The Independent and The Simple Things magazine. 


Full address is 24 Grove Park, Camberwell, SE5 8LH 

£5 entry. All monies raised go to the NGS whom them distribute to different charities. In 2022 they donated £3.11million. Core beneficiaries include Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie, Hospice UK and The Queens Nursing Institute. 


Accessibility: We are a 10-15 minute walk from both Denmark Hill and Peckham Rye Stations. There is usually lots of street parking. The garden is on a slight slope/different levels and so does include some steps. Some paths are uneven and made of wood chip, others gravel. Sadly, we are not wheelchair accessible. 

Last admission at 4:30  


More details on the NGS website here: 

Monday 19 June 2023

June: looking back, looking forward

 Mid June is the peak season for most UK gardens looking at their best. Every weekend there are now loads of different NGS gardens to visit. English garden exuberance abounds with chocolate box roses and frothy cottage garden borders.

Not my garden….

Every year my garden has an early peak in mid/late May when there is a sea of blue from the forget-me-nots. Adding to this peak is a developing Iris obsession, which is linked to a Cedric Morris obsession. Yes, I loved that Chelsea Garden! After this early peak the forget-me-nots are pulled out I am reduced back to bare earth and the slug chewed stumps of things whose name I am still trying to remember.

One of the many new flag irises I have bought

This year I have lost a lot of plants. This is due to both the very hot summer and drought which was then followed by a really cold and damaging winter which stressed a lot of things. In autumn, after the drought, it felt like many things got a second wind, putting on lots of new growth. I wonder if the cold wet winter then was more damaging than normal…

The key things that I lost and which were damaged were:

Musa Sikkimese’s and basjoo: all the Sikkimensis that were planted out have been cut back to the ground. About 50% of those that were on the terrance also lost their stems. I even lost 2/3 of the stems on my basjoo clump.

Musa sikkimensis re-growing from the ground. This was a mature clump of two that had survived the last few winters ok. However, they seem to be root hardy and all this growth is from this year.

Salvias: most that were in the ground have gone, especially S. bethallii which was a bit of a mainstay..

Cyperus alternifolia: I have this in my pond and whilst the top leaves usually die the plants are ok. I think most are dead although thankfully I can see and occasional shoot.

Jelly aloe: all dead

The saddest losses were my red bananas. Usually these are fine in my meter cupboard but this year it wasn’t enough. I don’t know if it was because I didn’t leave them upside down long enough to drain (usually I forget about them and they end up being upside down for 4-6 weeks). Whatever happened it has meant that I lost 2/3 and am now to 3 plants which are all about half their size…sadly the middles of the others all look to have rotted.

 Hedychiums: jury is out on these guys as for the first time ever I lost a few that were in the ground. The ones in pots seem to have done better, but the rhizomes on the top seem to have rotted off.

Surprises: Thankfully a lot is still alive, some things I am surprised about like a Puya that is still looking good, tree aloe and a Cyathea that was wrapped up in a cold greenhouse. There are also some things that may surprise me as last week I dug up a fern that looked completely dead but which had a faint green shoot on the bottom.

It is exciting to now have the basic structure of the garden set out for summer. I have just about finished all the planting out including a lot of Tithonia and new dahlias. Although the dahlias survive fine in the ground I am realising how by buying new/digging them up to overwinter and then potting them up fresh does get them off to a good start as here the slugs destroy them.

A plated out Puya that is completely fine

The terrace and lotus bowl all coming back to life

Newly planted beds with lots of dahlias and Tihonia (below)

This year the productive area and greenhouse are super organised! 

This Fatsia polycarpa lost its growing point over the winter, but has come back stronger with 3 side shoots

Miniature water lilies just flowering and heralding a great summer!

Friday 11 November 2022


It’s November and whilst some parts of the garden that are protected from the wind continue to get lusher and more exuberant, others are continually buffeted with big leaves being ripped and tattered.

Most affected have been two of the red bananas that have been acting like big wind sails, twirling around in big gusts. Annoyingly another red banana was attacked by a fox and is just holding on. Other plants continue their natural decline into winter with the Paulownias now being giant sticks with a few little leaves stuck on top. Some Tithonias hold on and even the dahlias that were rubbish all year have now come into flower.

I am in denial that the end is nigh and I do need to dig up the red bananas, put up the temporary greenhouse on the terrace and put the garden to bed. Last year I think I waited till the last week in November, with frosts being immediately after….

It has been a crazy and difficult year for the garden, which I know is a view shared by many. I didn’t enjoy all the panic watering just to keep things alive. Many plants never quite did as well as they should and for the first-time red spider mite was a problem outside. The one positive was that the slugs were kept in check and many of the tagetes survived. 

I have become more enamoured with colocasias that did well, with one that is supposedly hardy exciting me with its potential. The alocasias have been rubbish….sulking all year and not really doing much, only now shoving their huge leaves in my face and looking great…but is this short period of fabulous worth them looking terrible for most of the year? Same with the Coco yams. They always seem to take so long to get going, and I wonder if they only really work well if you have a heated mat or heat to kickstart them into growth?

Fuchsias, beyond Thalia, have also been rubbish and this is the second year that a couple have not flowered at all.

Yacon has been a success, and dividing the one I had early in the year has worked really well, especially putting one in a pot.

The jury is also out on dahlias….whilst I love them they can take forever to get going. I think the answer is to not overwinter them in the ground. Starting them off in pots will really help them get going and also protect them from slugs until they are big enough to look after themselves…

Anyway, with winter coming there will be a lot of time to ponder changes for 2023!

The very knocked around bananna!

Salvia gesneriflora...again a love hate relationship as they generally sulk all year until autumn and then look magnificent with thier vibrant red fuzzy flowers

Yacon in a pot looking magnificent

Fatsia polycarpa

Giant Echiums putting on a lot of growth and showing how good they are as foliage plants

Veg plot with some giant Purple sprouting broccoli. Tomatoes are still in the ground but were generally a bit rubbish as they all just split 

Sparmania just coming into flower