April Newsletter 2023
Everything starts to accelerate in the garden during April, and it is perhaps the month where we see the most changes. Early April displays bare branches and herbaceous perennials are still yet to appear but by the end of the month, there are new leaves and blossoms to enjoy. Daffodils, Tulips, Wallflowers, early Clematis, and spring perennials will soon burst into full flower.
The garden is waking up and this is an exciting time for gardening. It is time to sow flower and vegetables seeds, pricking out and potting on taking advantage of the longer evenings to get all our gardening jobs done.
April is the perfect month for a garden spring-clean. Remove any dead growth on hardy perennials which may have been caused by the cold temperatures of Winter. When cutting back, check for any new growth but if the plant is badly damaged it maybe too far gone so consider planting something new.
Perhaps plant a new shrub? Shrubs are available in all shapes and sizes and are useful in any garden as they provide structure and colour throughout the year.
You will also find a range of herbaceous plants coming into new, strong, growth providing further interest throughout the Summer.
When choosing flowering plants for our gardens there are lots of aspects to consider. Some flowering plants such as Lavender, Rosemary and Choisya, have scented foliage. Others have fruits and berries which are good for attracting wildlife as they provide food and shelter.
With this year’s long Winter, many plants are approximately 3 to 4 weeks behind previous Springs. However, Snowdrop, Crocus and early Daffodil flowers lasted twice as long in the colder conditions. With the recent wet and mild weather, we have had, April could provide an excellent display of Spring blossoms on trees and Spring flowering shrubs.
March had above average rainfall and to keep that all important moisture in the soil, mulch round roses, shrubs, and perennials with a layer of organic matter. Mulching will also reduce weed growth and improve the soil structure. It is particularly important around Camellias, Rhododendrons, Azaleas and . If plants do dry out during the hotter months of July and August, it could result in bud drop and less flowers the following Spring. That maybe noticeable this Spring after last Summer’s heatwave.
- Feed trees, shrubs, climbers and herbaceous perennials with fish blood and bone meal or Growmore.
- Feed roses with a specific rose feed for healthy plants and good flowers throughout the summer on HT and floribunda roses.
- Place plant supports around herbaceous perennials before they get too large.
- Keep on top of weeding now the weather is getting warmer.
Sow hardy annuals that are easy to grow. One packet of seed provides plenty of summer flowers for bedding, cutting or containers. Half-hardy annuals will need a greenhouse or cold frame somewhere warm and free from frost when sown and will need protection before planting out around mid-May.
National Trust seeds give inspiration to help you create your own beautiful gardens like Boduant, Nymans, Hidcote, or Sissinghurst. Use different colour combinations or a mixture of colour throughout the summer months - these are all easy to grow.
Sow Sweet Pea seeds, plant summer bulbs like Dahlias and Gladioli and plant Strawberries in containers or hanging baskets. Use John Innes Number 3 potting compost for this and place in a sunny position. By growing in containers, it is easier to protect fruit and to prevent slugs and birds from eating the delicious fruits in the summer.
April is the month when there is a wide range of alpine plants available, and these look brilliant when planted together in a shallow container. Use a mixture of different plants with mound or rosette shapes and a few trailing buds for the edges.
In the Autumn add a few dwarf species of Daffodils or Tulips for further Spring interest. When planting Alpines use John Innes Number 2 compost plus 25% potting grit for good drainage. Use pieces of rock or slate to create a natural rock strata and after planting use a top dressing of gravel to enhance the display.
With last year’s Autumn being wet, moss has certainly become a problem on some lawns. To keep it in check either let the grass grow taller or use a wire rake to scratch out the moss. You can then use the moss for lining Summer flowering hanging baskets. April is a good time to feed lawns which will help the grass to grow strongly and this in turn will smother out weeds.
Use products such as Safe Lawn Natural lawn feed which provides nutrients all year round which prevents weeds and moss from growing. For a greener and thicker lawn use Westland Triple Care. Sow grass seed or use turf to create a new lawn. If your lawn is in shade, then there are specific grass seeds you can buy that will tolerate these conditions. These are also good for general wear and tear.
Grow Your Own
Nothing beats the satisfaction of picking something you have grown yourself and eating straight from the garden – the taste is second to none.
You don’t need a lot of room to grow your own vegetables, a few containers provide enough space for leafy salad crops and even a kitchen windowsill provides enough space to grow micro greens, peppers and herbs such as chives, parsley and mint.
April is the month of nonstop propagation and most of the crops sown are transplanted and grown-on over the next couple of weeks. Seeds that you can plant now include broad beans, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, peas, sprouting broccoli, leeks, beetroot, radish, spring onion, rocket, turnip, spinach, Swiss chard, parsnips, carrots, onions and lettuce. With these, sow a few seeds every two weeks for a continuous crop.
Plant up 1st early, 2nd early and main crop potatoes.
Grow patio fruit trees in large containers. Patio peaches, nectarines, apples, pears and cherry are all grown on dwarf root stock. They provide a reasonable crop and look good even if only limited space is available.
Flowering Cherry - this is the peak cherry blossom time (depending on the variant). Flowers can be double pink, single pink, white or double white. Many are suitable for small gardens and need well-drained soil in a sunny, sheltered position as in a windy spot the flowers don’t last as long.
Magnolias are named after the French botanist Pierre Magnol and Magnolia fossils have been found dating back 20 to 95 million years. It is a plant that evolved before bees appeared on Earth, so flowers were originally pollinated by beetles and the waxy nature of the flowers withstood damage from them.
Magnolias are evergreen or deciduous plants and the large flowers, either bowl or star-shaped, come in shades of white, pink and purple, often appearing before the leaves. Magnolia x soulangeana is one of the most popular varieties and has large pale pink tulip-shaped flowers. Magnolia stellata has white star-shaped flowers and is more suitable for smaller gardens and requires a sheltered site with sun and partial shade with fertile soil containing plenty of organic matter. Avoid an East facing position as late frosts can cause flowers to be damaged.
The bright red foliage of Pieris now appears, followed by sprays of white bell-shaped flowers. It requires fertile acidic soil in a partially shaded, sheltered site and makes a good partner to Japanese Acers, Camelias and Rhododendrons.
Other highlights include:
- Amelanchier or Snowy Mespilus which has small pale pink blossoms, attractive foliage, and small red fruits in the Autumn.
- Spiraea Arguta is a small, bushy shrub that produces a mass of tiny white flowers.
- Ribes the flowering Currant
- Clematis Montana which has scented single pale flowers against the bronze-tinged young foliage. This climber needs room to spread but is easy to grow.
Finally, to attract wildlife to the garden create a pond - even a large bucket, tub or container can be used. Surround the edge with wildflowers which can be grown from seed. These will attract beneficial pollinating insects into the garden.
Our plant team are only too happy to help with any gardening question you may have, so don’t be afraid to ask during your next visit.
Next month we will look at planting for Summer colour including hanging baskets, tubs and containers and planting up borders with herbaceous perennials for a glorious display.