April – how wonderful! Gardens burst with amazing colours – pink and white blossom on trees, blue hyancinths, yellows from late spring flowers and forsythia. Longer daylight hours allow more time for this brilliant gardening month – providing the weather stays fair of course – as well as infusing the spirit with more energy.
Sustainable and wildlife-friendly spaces are becoming ever more important, whatever size the garden. We are all more aware of climate change and the loss of bio-diversity, and how to make those principles work in the garden. Meadow areas and native hedging are increasingly being used in the modern garden.
Many shrubs give superb displays as their new foliage emerges. Acer palmatum “Beni- Maki” has beautiful, rich pink colours as its new foliage unfolds, ideal in part of the garden with dappled shade. Nandina domestica “Firepower” is a small evergreen shrub ideal for any border or container. It produces truly stunning creamy-coloured new foliage which then turns orange/red and finally hot pink! It is commonly known as “Sacred Bamboo” but is actually a member of the Berberis family, and only resembles bamboo in its appearance.
Another early spring-flowering shrub found in gardens is Ribes Sanguineum “Pulborough Scarlet”, commonly known as flowering redcurrant. Again, like Forsythia, wait until it has finished flowering before pruning out the old wood. This is identified by the stems being blacker in appearance. Prune them out, right down to their base as this helps prevent Ribes becoming old and woody with flowering performance dropping dramatically.
A good early clematis which can cover a fence or wall, or even be grown through an early flowering shrub, is Clematis alpina “Columbine” which has beautiful nodding pale blue lantern flowers. Blue is not a very common colour for Clematis and this one is worth considering. Many gardeners do not rate Bergenias, commonly known as “elephant’s ears, but there are some superb cultivars available such as Bergenia “Bressingham Ruby” which grows deep rose red flowers; or Bergenia x schmidtii with its nodding bright rose pink flowers; or Bergenia cordifolia “Purpurea” carmine – purple flowers with the added bonus of rich bronze foliage! So if you have that dry shady corner which you have had difficulty filling, consider a Bergenia.
Now we are into April, many lawns need some TLC after a wet and windy winter. They may be sodden, full of moss or have large bald patches where the grass has died due to water-logging. There are, of course, remedies. The first thing is to aerate your lawn which can be done by using the garden fork to stab holes in it. This process reduces compaction, increases surface drainage and improves root health.
Professional garden help does not stop there, of course. Gardeneer teams can tidy up (taking the debris away), design an old or new garden, advise on plants, build a new patio for the summer (or clean your old one), put up new fences and help with everything else your garden needs.
Jobs for April
- Remove faded daffodil and tulip flowers, nipping off the heads and seed pods at the same time.
- Deadhead pansies, primulas and other spring bedding plants. Pansies will carry on into the spring and even to early summer, if attended to frequently.
- Remove tired winter bedding and plants that did not survive the winter.
- Check that self-seeded forget-me-nots aren’t smothering other border plants. Pull out plants if necessary.
- Hoe borders to prevent annual and perennial weeds from spreading and seeding themselves.
- Bulbs coming up in the rock garden or in containers may benefit from overhead protection from the rain.
- Feed borders with a good fertiliser
- Pots and tubs benefit from topping up with fresh compost. Old compost can be removed and replaced with new to your a depth of 5cm (2in) if there is not much room for topping up.
- Buy fresh potting compost from your local garden centre and store it in a cool dry place in preparation for the season ahead.
- Water butts are a worthwhile investment for the season ahead. Position them under a downpipe to make the most of rainfall.