GEOFF Stonebanks from Seaford writes for Bournefree every month and he’s on BBC Gardeners’ World at 8pm tonight.

He wrote to the BBC Gardeners’ World series producer in Bristol, back in April 2023, asking if they would like to film Driftwood 7 years on from their last visit,

Geoff, our regular gardening feature writer, explained to her that he had a very different garden, now aged 70 along with the impact of climate change he had been forced to completely rethink the garden and create a plot at the back that is much easier to maintain in old age, but much more importantly, more drought tolerant, to cope with our recent summer weather.

Geoff went on to say that “at the time of filming in 2016, I used to have over 300 containers throughout the garden, brimming with summer annuals and shrubs, which was extremely difficult to maintain through recent hosepipe bans and with a pair of knees that are going to need replacing at some point.”

In order to make life his little easier but still maintain a stunning garden, he had created and had landscaped, a new patio and courtyard behind the house and redesigned the pond.

He told the show, that in light of the way many gardeners seem to be moving to more drought tolerant designs and schemes, he wondered whether a revisit to see how he had achieved this at Driftwood might be considered. This, coupled with trying to make gardening a little easier the older one gets.

The idea was sold and following a zoom meeting to discuss the project, a provisional filming date of 24th August was set, with days either side reserved in case of rain. As the date approached it was clear the forecast for the day was not good so Geoff contacted the team and thankfully they agreed to advance filming to Wednesday 23rd when the weather forecast looked much better.

On the morning of filming Geoff was up at 530am making sure everything was perfect, some final dead-heading, cushions and furniture out and a last minute walk around to make sure everything was picture perfect.

They were blessed with a lovely sunny day and the crew, director/camera man Mark, sound recordist Brian and horticultural researcher Claire arrived just after 8, all of whom were lovely.

Mark picked out the best area for filming the interview and set up the area and the session got underway. He chose the back garden as it was more restful with fewer external noises to disrupt filming. The question and answer session lasted almost 2 hours, with a short break in the middle, with Mark posing questions which Geoff then had to repeat within his answer. There were no trick questions, just me telling it as it was. During the session, Claire was listing all the plants and items in the garden that he may have mentioned, so that Mark could later film “cut aways” of those items to edit into the final cut.

Once the Q&A session wrapped, Geoff was asked to identify 3 of his favourite plants in the garden and Mark then filmed him, adjacent to the plants, asking him to talk about them, why they were my favourites, what growing conditions they needed etc.

After lunch the team and Geoff identified a number of tasks they could film him undertaking. The final list was decided and they set about the task.

First up was a demonstration of taking cuttings from a fuchsia. Geoff opted to take them from a plant that his father had bought his mother as a ruby wedding gift many years ago, Empress of Prussia. There were many shots taken of close ups, then cutting the stems, preparing, dipping in rooting powder and watering. The whole session took over 40 minutes to film.

Next up was some deadheading of the flower stems on phormiums in the gravel beds at the top of the garden, followed by flower deadheading of sweet peas and geraniums around the garden.

Mark also decided he wanted a clip of Geoff that would reflect his perception of how immaculate the garden was, so he lay out some leaves on the footpath, which, as a matter of course, I would always clear, as I hate any debris to litter the pathways around the garden. This completed, Mark then spent quite a bit of time filming the items around the garden that I had mentioned during my Q&A session.

The last session of filming involved Geoff walking through the garden with Mark filming from Geoff’s open office window upstairs, some shots with Geoff’s rescue terrier Chester in the garden and finally a session with Mark continuing to film some cut aways throughout the garden.

Of the overall experience on the day, Geoff said: “By 5pm everyone was a little jaded, me included but what a wonderful day. The crew had made the whole thing so easy to film and it was a complete joy from start to finish.

The task ahead for them, with multiple video sequences and sound card data, plus Claire’s comprehensive notes taken throughout filming, was to edit over, probably, 4 hours of film, into an 8 or 9 minute film to be broadcast on the programme. I can’t wait until Friday!

The film will be broadcast this week, at 8pm on BBC Gardeners’ World on Friday 22nd March and will be available to be seen as a repeat on Saturday 23rd March and available on iPlayer.

Read more of Geoff’s garden at www.driftwoodbysea.co.uk and the garden will be open by arrangement for the scheme from 1st June to 31st August 2024.