Many trees and shrubs are under great stress. The high water table can literally drown the roots and we can expect there to be losses later in the coming years. But don’t be too hasty in making a judgement about a particular plant. Even if the top looks dead, fresh growth may come from below soil level later on this year.
In my garden I have had to abandon any hopes of early plantings because the soil is full of water and needs time to drain. I’m not too worried. There will be plenty of time to catch up with jobs, at least until the end of April but try and plant trees and bushes before the buds break.
Where conditions allow, break the crust or ‘cap’ on the soil surface and top dress with a general fertiliser. I prefer to use organic pelleted poultry manure. It acts slowly, gradually releasing its nutrients over several months. I like to apply a top dressing all around the garden. Everything gets a spring pick-me-up to get the garden off to a flying start.
I will apply a second dressing at half the recommended rate towards the end of summer just help the longer growing crops through to maturity.
Using a garden fork rough up the surface of the soil areas that will be receiving the earliest crops to let in air and warmth. Sow small pinches of lettuce and cabbage seeds in small pots or trays. When the seedlings are large enough to handle by their seed leaves prick them out and transplant them into 9 cms pots. They will be ready to plant out in a few weeks’ time.
Sow tomato seed now to provide to provide plants to grow on in a unheated greenhouse. They can be grown on a sunny window sill.
There is still time to prune buddleia plants to provide cones of flowers this summer. Cut them down to about 45cms/18 inches just above a green bud or shoot. Feed them with a general fertiliser to encourage healthy new flowering growth. I don’t carry out much autumn pruning of the flower border. I always leave the dead top growth on a frost jacket to protect the plants from the worst of the winter weather. But now it is safe to cut everything down to soil level before the fresh young shoots are to advanced.
It is a bit late I know, but there is still enough time left to check that the lawn mower and other power tools are in a fit and safe condition to use this year. Inspect electrical cables for damage and have them repaired or replaced by an approved electrician.