The month of April which may have been named after the Greek goddess Aphrodite or from the Romans naming the month Aprillis. It does seem a bit uncertain .
Anyway, this is the month the growing season really does spring forth .we are now into one of the most exciting times of the gardeners year.
The garden begins to look green and vibrant with warmer days longer nights and those much needed April showers .
The Garden now bursts forth with colour and interest not only from bright flowers but also the unfolding foliage from deepest green to the lovely coppery tones which are enhanced by the warm spring sunshine .
The months birth flowers are the daisy and the sweet pea both of which can give colourful displays.
April shows an increase in moisture in the ground which has now started to warm up letting plants grow at an ever increasing pace. so be warned this is not a month to be idle, take advantage of the longer days when you get home from work and get busy. There is much to do.
The garden is transforming into a place for all to enjoy, including birds building nests in hedges and large shrubs, you should have started trimming and tidying these earlier so as not to disturb them.
A very welcome visitor to the garden is our native hedgehog who will start rustling about in the debris strewn corners looking for insect grubs and the voracious slugs and snails which can devastate any new plantings. Always use wildlife safe slug controls if you do have to treat a problem area in the garden.
Weather this month can be a bit unpredictable. April showers can soon turn to a deluge with long spells of heavy rain and sudden cold snaps where a frost can damage new and tender growth.
So be on the watch and listen to your local forecast and take action when required.
A sheet of newspaper can give several degrees of frost protection so keep a few back from your recycle bin.
Some tender plants you have recently purchased from the local garden centre would benefit from a night or two indoors under cover away from the chilled air.
It is the month to start mowing the lawn.
Grass will start its lush green growth and will move on at a terrific pace and can be several centimetres long within a few days if warm weather abounds.
If you haven’t already checked the mower to make sure it is starting and is sharp enough to give a nice clean cut you’d better hurry and get down to your local mower centre and have it serviced, it is going to have plenty of use.
Scented plants this month are a must, many of the spring bulbs and shrubs produce wonderful scent.
Try and plant one or two near to the house near a window or door so when you walk out you get a blast of fragrance to lift your spirit.
Viburnum carlessii: a lovely scented shrub can be grown close to the house to enjoy its sweet fragrance .
Hyacinth and lily of the valley: are easily grown in pots which you can take into the house to enjoy the sweet fragrance.
The vegetable garden will keep you busy sowings of potatoes and early salad crops such as lettuce radish and the like.
In the greenhouse young seedlings would benefit from shading with a piece of newspaper at the height of the day as the sun is now much stronger.
Also watering in the greenhouse is better early morning so any water droplets have a chance to evaporate off delicate leafs.
This is the month where pests and diseases will attack.
Stay observant and take any actions required early on to reduce damage.
Always clean up greenhouses from last year’s debris of leaves and anything lurking under the benches to avoid any hidden areas for slugs and snails which will happily munch through tender seedlings causing a lot of damage which may cause you to have to re sow plants .
If you do have to use any chemical controls always follow the instructions and if spraying insecticides do it early morning to avoid bees and hover flies both of which are friends to the gardener.
Some of the star plants to look out for this month are:
Magnolia stellate: a great tree for the smaller garden growing to about 3metres.
Erythronium ‘pagoda’ : low growing and clump forming perennial for shaded areas with lovely yellow nodding flowers.
We can never forget the Prunus species : flowering cherries are one of the most spectacular blossom laden trees there is.
Cytisus: the broom family burst forth with lovely cream to yellow coloured flowers
and in the north areas forsythia: will still be showing their lovely yellow scented flowers.
JOBS FOR THE MONTH.
Check any recently planted trees and shrubs and water if drying out.
Prune early flowering shrubs.
Still time to divide perennials.
Stake any taller plants to prevent them being damaged by wind.
Watch for slug and snails which attack spring growth causing a lot of damage.
Pot up or transplant any self sowings you come across in the beds and borders.
Later this month deadhead daffodils to ensure large bulbs for next year.
Sow annual climbers and grasses for summer display.
Sow or turf new lawns this month.
Start mowing the lawn also not forgetting to give it a lawn feed.
In the greenhouse sow tomato and salad crops.
Plant potatoes and start outdoor sowings of carrots beetroot peas.
Prepare trenches for runner beans which you will be planting in May.
Continue sowings of half hardy annuals in the greenhouse.
Later this month start the planting of hanging baskets in the greenhouse.
The above are just some of the jobs to be getting on with and as the month progresses and weather improves and remember you are gaining about four and a half minutes extra daylight every day. So lets make use of the time and go gardening.