April 2022 Newsletter
Mother Nature doing what she does best
April is definitely one of the most exciting months in the garden. The longer days, warmer weather and increasing sunlight means you’ll see more changes now than at any other time of year. Leaf buds on the branches of trees and shrubs are followed, as the month progresses, by bright green leaves unfurling each day and by the end of the month there’s a green canopy of fresh green leaves over your plants and shrubs. Flower borders which, a week or two ago, looked just like empty brown soil will be full of the fresh green growth of herbaceous perennials and flowering bulbs by the month’s end.
April is all about colour. There’s plenty of blossom appearing on trees and shrubs and as the daffodils fade a fantastic array of tulips takes over, along with sweetly scented wallflowers and pale pink flowers of Clematis Montana covering walls and trellises. It is a busy time for gardeners sowing, propagating and planning for the year ahead.
A Few Top Picks For Spring Colour
Magnolia Soulangeana with large, pinky, tulip-shaped flowers or, for a smaller garden, Magnolia Stellata is reliable and easy to grow.
Trees such as apples, pears and cherries provide height as well as glorious blossom and can be readily grown in a small garden in large pots or tubs. Crab apple trees have wonderful blossom which is longer lasting than the ornamental cherry blossom and they are a useful pollinator for fruiting apple trees. Their colourful fruit is high in pectin, ideal for making jams and jellies, or they can be left to make an autumn feast that the birds will thank you for.
Choisya ‘Aztec Pearl’ is an easy-to-grow, evergreen shrub covered in white blossom in Spring. Spiraea arguta is another reliable shrub which disappears under a covering of tiny white flowers at this time of year.
Ribes sanguineum the flowering currant, with its cascading clusters of reddish pink flowers, was used in mediaeval times to cure lung disease. There is a white variety too, with blackcurrant-scented foliage.
For a sheltered area protected from hot summer sun or cold winter winds, Japanese acers cannot be beaten and with their green, orange and reddish flowers unfurling at this time of year, make a good companion to spring-flowering camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas.
Choisya Aztec Pearl
New in this year is Azalea Star Style, a beautiful compact shrub with pink, lilac and white star-shaped flowers and Pieris, with its reddish young foliage, is another good plant for brightening up a shady corner. And to extend the growing season, grow Hydrangea Annabelle with large football-sized flowers in summer.
Now is also a great time to plant roses, with fragrant abundant flowers in summer which transform flower borders and climbing or rambling roses are good for covering bare walls or fencing. The plant label will indicate if they are repeat flowering varieties, or if, as with most rambling roses, they just flower once and most of them produce wonderful rosehips in autumn.
Our Horticulturist’s Top Tips
Put in plant supports round herbaceous plants at this time, before they grow too large. These can be left in year-round as a reminder of what’s been planted where in winter months when the plants are dormant and have died back, so don’t dig up the markers!
As the soil is warming up and everything is starting to grow, now is a good time to feed trees, shrubs, climbers, evergreens, perennials and roses with fish, blood and bone, or with a plant-specific food such as Westland Rose High Performance, or Rhodo Azalea feed. Lightly hoe or fork this in, and then mulch with a layer of organic matter around the plants which feeds the soil and helps maintain moisture over the coming months.
Plant out summer flowering bulbs such as lilies and gladioli and plant dormant dahlia tubers in rich fertile soil in a sunny spot for a wonderful display in the summer and be careful when hoeing not to damage the roots until the new shoots appear in May.
Prepping The Lawn Ready For Lazy Summer Days
April is a good time, as the grass begins to grow, to feed the lawn with a product that is high in Nitrogen to provide good strong growth and help prevent competition from weeds.
To get rid of bald patches, mix a handful of seed with Multi-Purpose compost, sprinkle this mixture thinly over the bare patches, water in, and within a month this will provide a good green covering. Mow when the grass is approximately 1.5” (4cm) high.
Try Growing Your Own
It’s great fun to grow, pick and eat something you have grown yourself from scratch, and it tastes better too. It's also cheaper!
You don’t need a lot of time or space, as many vegetables, especially salad leaves, can easily be grown in containers, and if you don’t fancy growing from seed then packs of tiny vegetable seedlings are available to buy and to ‘grow on’. As a rough guide, for fast-growing crops like lettuce, rocket and radishes, sow a small amount every 2 weeks for a succession of crops rather than a glut.
To sow outside, there are broad beans, summer cabbage, early peas, leeks, beetroot, radish, spring onions, lettuce, chard, spinach, rocket, parsnips and carrots. Plant first early, second early and maincrop potatoes now.
For Sweet And Juicy Strawberries In June And July
The beauty of springtime in the garden or countryside just cannot be beaten, so enjoy your garden and remember the team here at Van Hage are here to help you do just that.
We look forward to seeing you soon and helping with all your gardening queries.
The Van Hage team