As well as putting up with throughly wet,cold,damp,windy and misty weather I am also pruning my way through fifteen glorious gardens. It is a good job my love for self employment and gardening holds no boundaries.

One of my all time favorite practical tasks is the renovation of completely overgrown deciduous shrubs, and winter is the perfect time. I prefer the prune and lop hard method. What is the point in owning a wonky looking shrub ? Once pruned those newly forming buds will be bubbling away in early Spring.

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As I garden I think – how much longer will my waterproof hold out ? Where did I put my secateurs ? Horticultural thoughts are always there too – a band of Acanthus ? A band of Globe Artichoke ? Maybe a giant block of Pampass would work ? I must admit to having spent a reasonable amount of time mulling over how to use the rampaging grass in the image above. I am not exactly sure of its identity – likely to be Phalaris arundinacea Tricolour. I am fully aware that it will run everywhere quite quickly, however if you keep your eye on it, it really has great presence. I am seriously considering planting small rectangular blocks or a sinuous thin strip right through a long linear border. In winter the blocks do take on a bleached straw colour and in my opinion look suprisingly good.

I have found countless seedlings of Papaver rhoeas Mother of Pearl this week, which has the most beautiful selection of tissue paper thin flowers from raspberry red to the palest pink and every possible hue in between. I am planning for these to be a big element in several of the gardens in my care. Other fantastic self seeders that will be part of my 2014 big idea are Euphorbia, Verbascum and Verbenas. I am on the hunt.