April is a busy time in the garden, with lots of tidying up still to be done, seeds to sow and plants to plant. But it can also be a pleasant and rewarding month as trees such as Amelanchier, Crab Apple, Magnolia and many varieties of flowering cherry come into bloom. Flowering shrubs, such as Azalea, Camellia, and Chaenomeles speciosa are spectacular in April.
In the border, Forget-me-nots, Aquilegia and Vinca major, to name only a few, provide more welcome colour. One of the prettiest climbers for your fence or trellis has to be Clematis macropetala – the early spring-flowering clematis that produces masses of nodding flowers from April to May.
For perfume, make sure you have Daphne x transatlantica Eternal Fragrance in your garden. Easy to grow, this plant also thrives in a container, and will bloom from spring through to autumn.
At this time of year the weather can be fickle; we can have pleasant, warm weather followed by frost, heavy rain and high winds. Tender plants and new shoots should be given some protection overnight if frosts are forecast. This verse sums it up nicely and always makes me smile:
“The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
a cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
And wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.”
– Robert Frost
Are you a fair-weather gardener or does a shower of rain just strengthen your resolve to get the job done? I’m definitely the former, but unfortunately this means that when the weather is good and you want to relax and enjoy the garden, there’s an awful lot of work waiting to be done.
But gardening, even in a small place is so therapeutic, improving our mood and making us happy – not to mention making us fitter and healthier!
What to do in the garden in April
- Hoe borders to get rid of weeds before they take hold.
- If you haven’t already painted or repaired your fences, now is the time to do it.
- Clean paths and patios with a pressure washer.
Maintenance In the Flower Garden:
- Camellias need plenty of water during their growing season. If the weather is dry, start watering during April and continue until October.
- Feed roses bushes. Roses are hungry plants and need generous feeding.
- Start to spray roses that are susceptible to disease.
- Apply a layer of mulch around your perennials, trees and shrubs. Use organic matter such as well rotted manure.
- Tie in climbers and tall perennials while the stems are soft and pliable. Some plants grow very fast during the spring, and this this is a job that might need to be done weekly.
- Tidy up early spring-flowering plants.
Start outdoor sowing of annual flower seeds, salad and veg:
Hardy annuals can be sown directly into their flowering positions in the spring and if you want a garden that is a riot of colour, this is the way to do it.
Flowers such as sweet peas, poppies, stocks and sunflowers can tolerate a certain amount of cold. Hardy Annual seeds are good for filling gaps in your planting, adding beautiful swathes of colour.
Sow half-hardy annuals under cover in early spring. Plant them out after all risk of frost has passed and they will delight you with flowers all through the summer. They’re great for cutting, and will flower for months.
Vegetable seeds can be sown out now – just imagine being able to go to the garden in just a few months, to pick fresh vegetables for lunch or dinner.
Sow salad seeds, or plant seedlings at regular 3-4 week intervals to ensure you have a regular supply ready for the kitchen.
Get creative with salad by following Sarah Raven’s “5 simple steps for a delicious salad”:
- Lilies into pots for the patio, or to fill gaps in the garden
- Plant pot-grown fruit trees and bushes
- Early potatoes
- Onion sets
…and much, much more. Garden Centres are well stocked at this time of year, but if you intend to plant directly into the soil, make sure that whatever you buy is frost-hardy…or have some horticultural fleece at the ready.
Happy gardening in April!