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

Wednesday 21 September 2022

Our 12th NGS garden opening: things at their best

Our 12th NGS opening was again a big success! A huge thank you to the 226 people who came as together we raised just over £2700!

More huge thanks to everyone who helped as we could not do it without our on the day volunteers.

Final big special thanks to Alan and Jonathan for their generosity in donating plants for the sale. Alan always shames me with the quality of his plants! Jonathan donated a car load of well grown Hedychium’s, many of whose names I had never heard of before. Thank you! This has all helped turn the plant sale into quite a big part of our opening which is great, with a big rush at opening to get the best plants. I think I am still bruised from all those sharp elbows…

This year was probably the one which has stressed me the most as the drought made things very difficult. A lot of August was spent watering the garden to try and keep things alive, with many plants dropping their leaves or being crispy around the edges. Many of the bedding plants had barely grown, and I was particularly sad to lose a tree fern that just got fried in the heat ☹ The only thing that seemed to do well were two Paulownias that this year are the biggest ever at perhaps 20+ ft!

I was dreading the hosepipe ban which hit a couple of weeks before the opening, but thankfully just as it was introduced, we had quite a lot of heavy rain. This came just in the nick of time and everything freshened up really nicely and started growing again. Two weeks on the garden is back to its usual lush self…

 I am always humbled by how many people have already visited and come back. Thank you!


Changes in 2022

I am always changing things and editing what is there as there are always tweaks to be made. The biggest challenges were digging out three massive clumps of bamboo that were taking over…I took it all out to the left of the pond, up by the far corner of Ivanhoe Road and a clump near the house. They had all been in for 11 years and were beginning to go crazy, taking up a lot of space. I am glad I got a mattock for my birthday!

I also took out some big old shrubs in the front garden that had been there forever which has given an un expectedly huge bed and made our grand Victorian iron railings a lot more visible. The aims are to celebrate these more with lots of climbers including clematis and Eccremocarpus. The bed was meant to be a riot of Tithonia, Ricinus and hot salvias, but being in full sun and out of reach of the hose it was all rather crispy!

There has also been some big lots of pruning going on with the Olive tree being hard pruned back to the main stems, and our neighbour removing most of an old apple tree making the garden by the house much more open.

Finally, I have installed a new Balinese style bell Tower near the top Ganesh shrine, complete with cordyline leaf roof!

Some pictures of things at their best....

Thursday 4 August 2022

Our Camberwell garden open for charity: Sunday 4th September 2022 11-4:30

Our garden opening is coming up!


The NGS says

‘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, bananas, bamboos, dahlias, mature tetrapanax and towering paulownias.

Huge ‘hidden’ garden, created from being able to buy derelict land which had been the bottom half of two of the neighbour’s gardens in 2010 gives the garden an unexpected size. Three ponds (one for wildlife and two with fish), a productive area and contemporary sunken terrace full of pampered prized plants.

We deliver on the 'wow' factor with visitors being surprised by the scale of the garden and getting lost in the exotica. The garden changes and improves every year as the plants grow bigger and the feel gets 'junglier'.

Since first opening for the NGS in 2011 the garden has changed radically. At that time the top garden was still new and being cleared. Planting was mostly annuals and pumpkins! It took a year to clear the rubble, brambles and hops. We filled 5 skips with rubble and broke 20 spades and forks digging the land. Many visitors have kept coming back to see the transformation!

The lower lawn, lots of seating and hidden corners give space to sit and enjoy. Renowned for good teas and home-made cakes. Last admission at 4:30’

The garden is on a slight slope and so does include some steps. Some paths are uneven and made of wood chip, others gravel. Sadly we are not wheelchair accessible.

Press Coverage: Featured on BBC Gardeners' World, BBC Instant Gardener and in Garden News, The Independent and Simple Things magazine.

Full details here:

 No need to pre-book.

The nearest train stations are Peckham Rye or Denmark Hill, check routes before you travel as they always seem to do works that weekend! If you are driving there is lots of street parking on our road.  The full postcode is SE5 8LH, we are at the Chadwick Road end of Grove Park. Check your satnav/phone is directing you to Grove Park as sometimes it can take you to the back of the house.