Well hello April, you seem to have crept up, but you’re very welcome.
April is the first whole month in the year when daylight and nights are equally long, so plenty of light and warmer days means the garden puts on a real growth spurt.
There’s so much to do in our neglected garden, at times it’s quite overwhelming. I had a plan to get out and do some gardening every day, frankly a bit too optimistic, but I have been out every 2 or 3 days and I’m making progress. Small bites at a big job really seems to work, don’t you think?
April is also the time when a few things have to be done before summer comes along or they’ll have to be shelved until autumn. Laying turf is one of these, it’s best done by the end of this month. April is also a good time to sow grass-seed as the soil warms up enough for the seed to germinate.
Climbing roses produce a lot more flowers if their new stems are gently bent over and tied horizontally to their support. I’ve finished pruning my roses, given them a feed of pelleted chicken manure and a nice, thick mulch of organic compost onto the damp soil. It rained shortly afterwards too, which made me happy, it felt like they’ve been well set up to do their best…… we shall see.
Dahlias and summer bulbs:
Plant dahlia tubers, lilies and eucomis into pots and keep them out of the frost until things warm up out there.
Indoor bulbs like hyacinths can be recycled and planted in the garden, they’ll pop up every spring. I honestly think that spring bulbs are some of the best garden plants, they’re such good value, growing each year with only a little bit of attention. Avoid pulling of the leaves off, just let them wither away so they can photosynthesize and build up the bulb for flowering next year.
Cut back Cornus [dogwood] and willow to a few inches above the ground, to encourage new stems to grow, they’re much more brightly coloured than the old stems. You can use the old stems for weaving plant supports, wreaths or use them with cut flowers.
Mulch bare soil:
I know this is a monthly mantra fo mine, but it’s one of the best things you can do for your garden. It drastically improves the condition of the soil so that it holds on to water for a bit longer, it also helps water to drain away. Plants will grow better and healthier, so it’s pretty much an essential thing for organic gardeners to do.
Use home-made compost or buy in soil-conditioner, small, chopped bark also works well. Spread a thick layer [aim for 4in/10cm] over damp soil, avoiding the stems of plants.
Ornamental grasses are happier planted at this time of year, their small root systems often rot if they’re planted in the autumn.
It’s also a good time to plant perennials.
Weeds and Pests:
These are taking full advantage of the extra daylight and growing fast, I try to hoe them while they’re small before it gets to be a big job that takes longer. Aphids will also be appearing on a plant near you very soon, taking advantage of the soft, new plant growth, gently slide your fingers over the stem and wipe them off, being bit squeamish, I wear gardening gloves .
How are you getting on with your garden, I hope you can find some time out there to enjoy it.
all photos: Jill Anderson