Adding the wow factor to a forgotten corner

For garden owner Geoff Stonebanks, a changing climate and the desire for less maintenance has meant adapting his award-winning garden to make it work for him and his many visitors. This December he tackled a forgotten corner…

I’ve always loved my small garden, especially filling it full of pots through the summer months, painting the landscape with pretty flowers. 

In the autumn of 2021, bearing in mind I’m fast approaching 70, I decided I had to change the garden in order to make it much easier to look after, but equally, to continue to be of interest to the hundreds of visitors who come and see such a small plot each year – 23,000 to date.  

That year, I created a sunken Mediterranean garden with old railways sleepers, which has gone done a real hit with the 700 visitors who came last summer. All those changes can be seen on my previous post here

This year, I decided I’d tackle the corner of the plot I have not really made an impact on since moving here in 2004, other than cover the area with many containers around the small pond. You can see that there was just a mass of greenery and colour this summer, but, as you can imagine, 2022 in particular with the drought and hosepipe ban, it was extremely difficult keeping it looking its best for visitors. 


I sketched out the design I wanted to create and the same landscaper who translated my last project from drawing to reality, was, thankfully, up for more of the same. So, once the garden had closed its gate for the 2022 season, I began to strip the area, ready for him and his team to work their magic.  

Day 1 of their labours began clearing some of the debris I’d not been able to remove but in essence all the plants and objects I’d wanted to retain had been carefully located elsewhere, until the work was complete. The old bench had to go, as it was rusting away and the five trickle ponds were removed. 

I had decided to go for the wow factor with objects, as there were not going to be as many plants in the finished project. My first purchase was an amazing curved Corten steel wall, delivered from The Netherlands, closely followed by a beautiful, circular, Corten steel raised pond to replace the one I had filled in. 


I was amazed how quickly the guys created the structure for the area but sadly work had to be spread out longer than we wanted, because of the heavy rains on several days across the build. 

By day 4, the Corten steel wall had been installed and the adjoining brick walls built, and it really started to take shape. For continuity, I had decided upon another small Indian sandstone circle to match the other two in the garden. We were all quite surprised how big the area looked once stripped of all the old planting and many containers. 

The final day of the build, day 7, the area had been completely transformed, including a small set of new steps to link the area with the centre of the garden. The garden has always had one way up and one way down so movement of visitors will now be much easier. The fountain that used to reside in the pond, now looks resplendent in the new feature.  


Before the big freeze came, I’d completed some of the planting in the area, but the bulk will be done next spring. A lovely new light has been installed now too, casting a wonderful ambience across the patio at night. 

Another new addition is a small steel gabion, that is housing all the surplus stones and slate that had been dotted around the garden. I’m undecided, as yet, whether to purchase a cushion for it and use as a seat, or simply display succulents on it next year! Time will tell. The stunning Yucca Thompsoniana next to it is another new purchase for the area. I’ve yet to purchase a new bench to sit alongside the shed but that can wait until the spring. 

All in all, I am extremely pleased with the finished product and once all my succulents are transferred from their winter homes, next May, the area will look quite magical but more importantly be much easier to maintain, especially if we have a repeat of this summer’s drought. 

Driftwood opens By Arrangement from June 2023 to August 2023 for groups of between 1 and 20. This means the garden welcomes visitors on pre-agreed dates. For more details and to arrange a visit click here

Read more of Geoff’s garden at www.driftwoodbysea.co.uk 

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