What a nightmare last weekend, with the dreadful gale force winds along the South Coast. Driftwood really took a battering from the strong winds, at times in excess of 50mph, just as it was starting to come alive for welcoming visitors over the next few weeks.

The only good point was, we were warned it would happen, so I was able to take appropriate precautions to minimise potential damage. I decided to fleece some of the more delicate plants, a palm and small acer included, to protect from the wind burn. I upturned heavy wooden garden furniture to give shield to the succulents around the summer house and in general it worked.

The only real damage is the badly wind-burnt fronds of the tall palms, which are just too big to fleece now. Some of the newly unfurled fronds of my many ferns are also looking a bit worse for wear, which is a real shame.

The weather has been so cold of late, meaning growth in general has been slow, so the leaves on the grape vine and fig tree had yet to fully come out, which protected them somewhat. Let’s hope summer is on its way.

You can catch me on BBC Radio Sussex, at about 1.10pm tomorrow, Sunday, talking with Joe Talbot on the Mid-Morning Show about the gardens opening for the National Garden Scheme in June.

I have a couple of lovely Gunnera manicata, commonly known as giant rhubarb, growing in large containers in the garden, around my pond. These are plants that can be both loved and admired but also feared. The key thing to remember is that the more feed and the more access to water you can give them the larger the rhizomes will grow and the bigger the leaves will become.

They are bog plants which like their roots in rich wet bogs which remain wet all year round. They happily colonise alongside lakes and streams where their gigantic umbrella-like leaves reflect splendidly in the water.

I’d always wanted one in my garden and when I inquired, I was told by a seller at Hampton Court a few years ago that they will adapt, so can be grown in large containers too. I didn’t need telling twice and bought a couple which I have now had for six years. In May, they produce fat chubby flower spikes 2ft-3ft in height which will produce red fruits by autumn. My two are only just coming alive. The leaves always look quite dramatic as they emerge and grow quite large, creating a wonderful backdrop to the pond area.

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