Record amounts of water have fallen from the sky

A sad and sodden garden. Will it ever dry?

This may sound ridiculous but please just hear me out

I reckon by September we may be in a drought

Don’t press the panic button – we’ll take things in our stride

But meanwhile it’s still raining, so I think I’ll stay inside.

Wet.Wet.Wet, right enough. There's been 290mm (that’s 11 inches in post-Brexit speak) in my father's rain-gauge for the month of February.

The veg’ plot had become a ‘no go’ area – there are still leeks there and parsnips hidden under the mud, but the soil is unworkable. At least there is no standing water – some of the English farmers and growers must be in despair with their situation.

If, and when, the weather direction changes – and at the end of March, it's looking better – and we get that prolonged ‘scadding’ east wind as predicted, then outdoor work could continue, even though you are likely to be chilled to the bone!

Despite the meanderings of the jetstream, there are, though, definite signs of growth and lots of preparation to get on with for the season.

Last year, I grew Ailsa Craig onions from seed. All the pricking out and ground work took a bit of effort, but the results were worth it. Nice bulbs averaging about a pound in weight. They stored well, too – we’re still using them.

This season I’m using Red Baron – likely not to be so big but maybe a better flavour. However, the tomato plants are sulking. This dull weather is not suiting them. They’ll need a lot more sunlight and a better temperature before they bulk up.

So far, this winter has been mild (I reckon April will be the worrying sting in the tail). Supply and planting of bare root hedging has come to a halt because a lot of stock has broken dormancy. Existing hedges and shrubs are needing tidied before bud-burst.

Where there has been a weather window I have been tiptoeing round the crocuses and daffodils to do some pruning. Some plants show tremendous powers of regeneration. Dogwood, escallonia and laurel, for example, can be hacked down to almost ground-level and will happily put up new shoots.

Spring blooming items, like flowering currant and forsythia are also vigorous beasts but delay approaching with secateurs until after flowering – which, given the current temperatures, won’t be far away.

Need some colour for the front doorstep? P is for pots. P is for pansies, periwinkle, primula and pieris.

A good mix of colour for now would be dwarf narcissus, like Tete a Tete or Minnow, grouped together with pansies or violas and the reliable primrose.

Don’t be thinking that primroses are an ineffectual wee stopgap. If you dead-head them regularly they will flower for ages. The Novita selection provides spectacular shades. The Wanda series flowers reliably every year and could be classed as a perennial.

Lesser periwinkle (vinca minor) has many uses in the garden. Great for ground- cover in a shaded spot under trees and also smart as a trailing item in patio pots and troughs. Cheery sky blue flowers are appearing now. Purple or white flowers are an option but they do not have the same vigour as the plain blue.

Don’t opt for the greater periwinkle (vinca major) unless you have a large unsightly area or banking to cover – ultra rampant!

Interesting to note that the forward-thinking garden centres are stocking up with plants that have yet to show their full potential. Pieris is one example. An ericaceous plant – which likes acidic, humus-rich soil – they can be real eyecatchers as a match pair in containers.

Plant them in a 50/50 mix of loam and ‘rhododendron’ compost and they will last for years. The only down-side is that the vibrant red new shoots are frost prone. The chances are the first flush will get nipped, but they regrow well and provide all year round greenery in a lightly shaded location.

March is the month for dealing with the herbaceous border. New shoots are appearing and the time is right for splitting things up to give more stock.

Hosta, rudbeckia and Michaelmas daisies can all be teased apart and planted in new positions. Given the amount of rainfall we have had, I doubt if they will dry out.

The Lenten Rose (helleborus orientalis) is looking good. Some of the old varieties were a bit shy and hid their flowers under a canopy of drooping foliage.

The cool rose-lilac shaded Pippa’s Purple is a great improvement. Big strong stems that show off the petals to full advantage. An excellent choice for a shaded spot.

The wild, mild winter has allowed field mice and voles to continue breeding at an alarming rate. Also, rather than staying in the field where they belong, many have sought refuge in my glasshouse and propagation tunnel.

Sweet peas are a favourite target. I have also noticed that moles have increased in numbers in our region. Perhaps the amount of moisture in the turf has allowed them to move around more easily and meet the neighbours.

Recently I spied some dandelions growing in the joints of the patio slabs and muttered to myself about 'bl***y weeds'. Apparently this way of thinking is ‘un-woke’ and therefore wrong. A dandelion on the patio is a plant growing in what I think is the wrong location.

Calling it a weed is a hate crime. Oh, and by the way, the mice chewing their way through my precious seedlings are not ‘vermin’. Hate crime No 2.

In March, last year, I was shaking my head at the political log-jam concerning Brexit. Move forward 12 months and we certainly don’t have our troubles to seek.

The doom-mongers would paint a bleak vision for 2020 and drive you to seek self-isolation whether you needed to or not. Things will be tough, the weather (for some) has been awful – but we’ll get by. Stay positive!

Happy gardening

General points:

Lovely choice of summer bulbs and corms at the garden centres now (you might find some doing online sales). Gladioli or tuberous begonias will brighten up the patio pots.

Happy herbaceous. Shear off past seasons stems and rake out old foliage. Give a sprinkle of bone meal to give a slow-burning boost to new growth.

Shelter from the rain. Give the greenhouse a good spring-clean. Disinfect trays and pots. Also an idea to give the glass a skoosh with dilute Jeyes Fluid to kill off overwintering bugs. Ventilate well though.

By law field hedges should now remain untouched until September. (Too boggy to even try now anyway.) A wee trim of shrubs in the garden would not go amiss though, also climbers will need tied in after all the ‘storms’.