“And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.”
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Sensitive Plant
April is National Garden Month. It is also the “action month” in the cottage garden. This is when things need to be done almost every day, especially if you are starting a new bed.
April can be summed up in five words. Weed. Plant. Divide. Compost. Weed.
But for a more detailed list of things to do, see below.
Plant annuals and perennials
For best performance, get your perennials and bedding plants in early. You won’t need to fill in your beds as much in midsummer.
Lift large clumps, split with a spade and re-plant. Couldn’t be easier. This is the easiest way to increase your stocks of plants. Newly divided clumps need watering in and you need to give a bit of water if it gets very dry. Lots of nice compost and that’s about it!
Anything you decided last year was in the wrong place can be moved now and should get off to a good start before it gets too hot. I try to keep a gardening diary these days so that if during the year I see things I want to change I write it down and then don’t forget the following April.
If you didn’t do this last month add an organic fertilizer rich in nitrogen and potassium to your roses. Hoe into the soil at the base.
Prune buddleia and lavatera, cut these hard back to stop growth from being ‘leggy’.
Cut back all hydrangea stems which flowered last year. Leaving these on until now provides some frost protection during the winter.
Tie In Stems
Take a look at your climbers and see which ones need to be tied in to their supports. Clematis tend to need a helping hand to get going on their supports, honeysuckle as well (my clematis bloomed today!) Wisteria can usually manage on its own.
You can sow annuals and perennials now.
Good annuals to provide lots of color are: zinnias,marigolds, sunflowers and cosmos (especially the lovely dark pink colours).
Perennials worth trying are: coreopsis, helenium, lupin and verbascum. Verbascums lovely spikes of flowers provide real height and contrast in your garden.
Make sure you keep up with weeding as the weeds will be growing strongly now.