Newsletter April

Reminders and ideas for garden tasks at this time of year. Let me know if you want to talk through any of them.

Spring jobs

Roses, trees & shrubs

Start to prune early flowering shrubs like Forsythia & Chaenomoles (flowering quince) as they finish flowering.

Prune evergreen shrubs unless they are about to flower. Remove frost damaged shoots from evergreens at the same time.

You can trim Teucrium, Santolina (cotton lavender), Helichrysum and lavender if needed.

Finish cutting back Cornus, Salix, Sambucus, and Cotinus.

It is getting too late to plant trees, shrubs, roses and climbers although evergreens can go in if the soil is still damp. Larger plants have trouble establishing, so should be left till October if dry.

Check tree ties and stakes for fit. Once they get too tight they will damage the tree. After a certain time most stakes become unnecessary.

Prune hydrangeas.

Tie in climbing and rambling roses as they grow.

If you haven’t fed your roses and shrubs, now is the time to do it.

If you wish to spray your roses for insect and fungal pests, start now. Bear in mind that (depending on product) you may need to spray every 3-4 weeks throughout the summer, so it can be a big commitment.

Clearing and tidying

Deadhead winter bedding.

Pinch the heads off daffodils and tulips as they finish, leaving the leaves till they yellow.

Sow bare patches of lawn with seed.

Weeds are starting to get troublesome now, and it is easy to ignore them in the rush to get everything else done. But if they get away from you now, you will spend the year catching up.

Slugs and snails will also become a problem now. Make sure to protect new shoots and young plants. If you are using slug pellets, read the instructions, using a lot of pellets does not mean a safer plant.

Check for pests like aphids which will be rapidly multiplying in warm spells. Rather than spraying, just wipe them off bud and leaf tips where possible.

Perennials, climbers, ferns & grasses

Divide bamboo and waterlilies if needed.

Tie in honeysuckle, jasmine, and clematis to keep them on their supports.

Early flowering clematis can be trimmed back to their support after flowering to prevent them becoming unruly.

Cut back hardy fuchsias and penstemons.

Cut off old and tatty fern fronds to let the new ones come through.

Fruit & veg

Plant seed potatoes by the end of the month.

Prune figs.

Protect blossom from frost (use fleece or a net curtain).

Sow aubergines, tomatoes, & chillies indoors (or wait till next month and buy plants instead).

Feed citrus plants.

Also indoors, sow celeriac, courgette, squash, pumpkins, marrows and leeks.

Outside you can sow beetroot, carrot, and peas (but be careful of hungry mice).

This is the latest time for planting asparagus crowns and jerusalem artichokes. Time to get the onion and shallot sets in too.

If your herbs are getting crowded you can divide them and either plant the surplus in beds or pots, or give to friends (or eat).

If you started your broadbean seedlings earlier this year, you can plant them out now, as long as you protect them with fleece on frosty nights.

Indoors

Sow sweet peas indoors

Houseplants can be fed regularly from now till the end of September.

You can also repot and propagate most of them if needed. Though never repot an ailing plant, find out what it wrong with it first.

You will find that plants indoors will need more watering as the light levels and temperatures increase.

Odds & ends

Sow hardy annuals and sunflowers.

It can get very hot in the greenhouse if the sun comes out, so make sure that you can open windows if needed.

Wildlife

Tree, oil seed rape, grass, nettles and many other pollens are around now if you are a hayfever sufferer.

Frog and toadspawn still appearing. Don’t move spawn between ponds in different gardens as it may spread amphibian diseases (and pond weed!).

Birds are nesting, so avoid disturbing areas where they are likely to be.

Check feeders and water regularly.

Hedgehogs will start breeding soon, so keep feeding them if you do so. Dry kitten food (biscuits) is best for them, grain or mealworms can cause illness, as can slugs and snails. Make sure they have lots of clean water.

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