Home to David and Sarah Kowitz since 2002, Fairlight Hall, a Victorian Gothic confection of turrets and castellation, has undergone significant renovation of both the house and the grounds. The estate now boasts many environmental innovations, including geothermal heating, rainwater collection and has Soil Association organic certification for the livestock, park and vegetable gardens. As well as a venue for occasional events, the garden will be open Saturday August 19 - Sunday 20through the National Garden Scheme. What you will find here is an abundance of inspiring garden areas to enjoy and plenty of ideas to take home for your own plot.

Great British Life: Sea glimpses through the wildflowers (c) Leigh ClappSea glimpses through the wildflowers (c) Leigh Clapp

Sitting at the top of a hill overlooking the English Channel, the verdant gardens are planted with the past and heritage in mind while also incorporating many improvements. Much of the original layout, along with a number of trees and shrubs, remain and, in the spirit of the Victorian plant hunters, a plethora of interesting plants have been added to the palette. Spread over ten acres, the formal gardens feature exotic tropical plants, billowing herbaceous borders, semi-tropical woodland avenues and wildflower meadows. The jewel in the crown of these stunning gardens is the impressive contemporary walled garden designed by Susan Watson and winner of the Sussex Heritage Trust renovation 2009, complete with an amphitheatre, borders, veg beds, a pond, fruit cage and vast glasshouse with exotics.

Great British Life: Colourful borders and tropical planting in the walled garden (c) Leigh ClappColourful borders and tropical planting in the walled garden (c) Leigh Clapp

The gardens you see today have been transformed from the overgrown, weed-infested site, while being sympathetic to the garden’s history. ‘Over the past two decades the team has worked hard to bring order to the site removing self-seeded birch trees and Rhododendron ponticum that was dominating much of the estate,’ explains head gardener, Matthew Brewer, who joined Fairlight Hall last November. There are a number of special plants from the 19th century planting to spot as you wander these pleasure grounds, including wellingtonia and monkey puzzle trees. You’ll also discover some lovely hardy and half-hardy specimens that have been planted across the gardens, from showy dahlias and floriferous perennials to gingers, pseudopanax, palm trees and cacti. Box and yew hedging divides areas of the gardens into rooms, giving protection from the salt-laden winds and allowing themed planting to be developed. ‘Since I began we have revamped the ha-ha borders, tackled rose pruning which had long been neglected and replanted the annual pictorial meadow,’ Matthew says.

Great British Life: The walled garden encloses ornamental and productive plants (c) Leigh ClappThe walled garden encloses ornamental and productive plants (c) Leigh Clapp

In August the colours and textures mingle in the herbaceous borders, the produce reaches its zenith and the whole garden buzzes with life. ‘Our meadows will be looking great especially by the Russian steps and the gold, blue and orange annual meadow, as well as the long border with lime green, dark purple and orange combinations,’ he adds. Being organic the gardens are a great example of what can be achieved with careful principles. Matthew will be available on the NGS days in the plant sale area to give advice and chat about the on-going plans for the garden. ‘My ethos is naturalistic and picturesque, I don’t like gardens to be too over designed or over planted, perhaps you could say contrived,’ he says. ‘I like nature of be allowed in, so selective weeding, allowing some wildflowers into beds. Perhaps at odds with the very formal Fairlight Hall, but I do have a very high standard of finish learnt from my time at the RHS. I like to see the lawns mowed well and the paths well weeded, to then frame the rest of the garden. I very much enjoy the spontaneity of the flower arranging side to my role, making a beautiful display with whatever is to hand and in the same way filling borders with contrasting yet pleasing combinations.’

Great British Life: Dense planting creates impact and reduces weeds (c) Leigh ClappDense planting creates impact and reduces weeds (c) Leigh Clapp

Great British Life: Exotic planting in the walled garden (c) Leigh ClappExotic planting in the walled garden (c) Leigh Clapp

Great British Life: Stroll the long border (c) Leigh ClappStroll the long border (c) Leigh Clapp

To know

Fairlight Hall, Hastings, TN35 5DR

Open Sat 19, Sun 20 August (10-4)

Adm £8, chd free

Pre-booking preferred

Homemade teas

Homemade preserves, plants and produce for sale

Web: ngs.org.uk

Great British Life: Verbena bonariensis is a bee magnet (c) Leigh ClappVerbena bonariensis is a bee magnet (c) Leigh Clapp

Great British Life: Dahlias will keep flowering until the first frosts (c) Leigh ClappDahlias will keep flowering until the first frosts (c) Leigh Clapp

Get the look

• To keep the colour going include plenty of high and late summer choices that cope well with the weather

• There is a plethora of brilliant flowers to select from, such as dahlias, hydrangeas, cleome, late roses, fuchsias, agapanthus, penstemons and the daisy-like forms of heleniums, rudbeckias, anthemis and Echinacea

• Use a handful of ultra-reliable, perennial workhorses

• Tie in and support your taller, late-summer perennials to help prevent them from flopping over or being damaged by the wind

Great British Life: Dahlia 'David Howard' (c) Leigh ClappDahlia 'David Howard' (c) Leigh Clapp

Matthew’s top tips for a long season of colour

• Chelsea chop perennials, this enables otherwise leggy plants to better support themselves but also increases length of flower period

• Salvias and pelargoniums go on and on and on will look great until frost

• Consider some more unusual summer/autumn flowering bulbs such as nerine, colchicum or tulbaghia, these plants are native to southern hemisphere (their spring is our autumn- hence the colour.

• Ornamental grasses look great in the months of August onwards, colourful with bronzes and golds and can add structure and interest to a garden well into winter

• Hydrangeas are a very easy plant for late colour, fast growing and if you have acid soil you can get deep blue blooms in addition to a range through white to pink

Great British Life: Produce is organically grown and some can be purchased on the open days (c) Leigh ClappProduce is organically grown and some can be purchased on the open days (c) Leigh Clapp

Top tips for growing organically

• Gardening organically doesn’t mean your garden fends for itself; rather you need to arm yourself with knowledge to strengthen your plants’ health and use alternative ways to ward off pests

• Keep five main principles in mind for a more natural, holistic ecosystem – a good site, healthy soil, biodiversity, sustainable resources and avoiding chemicals

• Perfect soil, abounding with nutrients and texture, full of life, is vital for healthy plant growth. Healthy, fertile soil, with a good structure, allows plants to absorb water and nutrients, and encourages strong growth

• Feed the soil with home-made compost, rotted manure or leaf mould

• Growing green manures, such as Phacelia tanacetifolia that also attracts pollinating insects, is another organic technique for soil improvement

• Natural liquid feeds can help your plants in times of stress, mycorrhizal fungi improve root nutrition uptake and worms will sort out your soil

• You may like to try the No Dig method - which uses thick mulches to suppress weeds

• Hunt out organically-grown seeds and plants as conventionally-grown plants are often already loaded with pesticides and chemical fertilizers or may be genetically modified

• Use the right plants in the right place, selecting strong, healthy plants suited to your conditions, and look for naturally disease-resistant varieties