Rushlake Green Village Leaf

Gardening Diary - April 2011

'Rain on Good Friday and Easter Day,
A good year for grass and a bad for hay'

This is a month of many tasks which will brook no delay, for growth now becomes so active that very soon it will be too late to transplant or to prune many kinds of plant without risk of injury. Indeed the secateurs will be overtaken by the hoe this month; your hoe should always be close at hand. It will be assumed that the diligent gardener will have seen to any maintenance and repair jobs before Lent. Similarly preparations for the street parties towards the end of the month will have call on our time. Taken together we should all have a nagging sense of the inexorable rush of spring.

So what may we be getting on with in the garden this month?

Now is the time to finish planting deciduous trees, shrubs, climbers including ceanothus, clematis, decorative vines, honeysuckle, jasmin and wisteria and a good many of the more forward herbaceous plants. April is a good month for planting conifers, hollies, laurels and other evergreen shrubs and hedging plants. Very important to keep watering newly planted trees and shrubs, the leaves are losing water whilst the roots are still getting hold of the soil. Gladioli will be better under the soil than out of it. Evergreens, including yew, box edgings, cupressus and laurel hedging can be pruned now. I prune my forsythia as it finishes flowering, leaving the youngest stems as these bear the best flowers next year. Trim back overgrown ivy.

Any rose pruning should be completed near the beginning of the month. Some of us may have topped our lawns last month, we can now start lowering the blades of the mower by a quarter inch at each mow, not getting any lower than half an inch. Now is the time to start feeding the lawn. There seems to be more moss in the lawn this spring so a ready mixed moss killer and fertiliser may be in order.
Perennials with succulent shoots such as delphiniums and lupins may need protection from slugs.
Towards the end of the month dahlia tubers can be planted out, but plant them reasonably deep so that the young shoots will not appear above the soil until danger of frost has passed.

As daffodils and other early flowering bulbs finish flowering it is well to remove dead flowers to prevent seed formation and encourage growth of the bulbs. As Forsythias finish flowering they should be pruned, I cut out the stems that have just flowered, but keep all young stems as it is these that will bear the best flowers next year. Shape the bushes as you prune.
Some flowering deciduous shrubs, such as buddleia davidii and hydrangea paniculata grandiflora, produce their flowers on current years growth and should be cut back hard now, almost to the old wood. Rhus typhina will produce strong young shoots if pruned in the same manner.
Light pruning by removing weak or leggy shoots should be carried out on euonymus, olearia and evergreen species of viburnum.

In the vegetable garden, naturally assuming a fine tilth has first been achieved, we may now be sowing broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, beetroot, main crop carrots, second early and main crop potatoes and french beans on a warm border or under cloches . Where neglected last month, leeks and onions can still be sown but without further delay. The strawberry bed may be tidied up, removing all dead and damaged leaves. As soon as rhubarb flowers are seen, cut them out near the base. If left, they absorb food and energy from the plant. First early potatoes should have soil drawn up around the haulm. Always have a bale of straw about your person for covering tender shoots in the event of frost.

Push ahead with all possible speed the pricking off of seedlings grown last month and the potting on of young stock. These are jobs which must have first call on the growers attention and must on no account be delayed until seedlings are overcrowded or young plants potbound.
Keep the hoe going between crops where the rows can be seen clearly. This frequent aeration of the soil and checking of weeds does a great deal of good and certainly encourages growth.

Be careful not to overreach yourself hanging the bunting for the street party, a gardener in traction is of little use about the garden.

Happy hoeing and happy Easter.

Content kindly volunteered by Ross Atabey from Green & Great Gardens your local landscaping and garden specialists. For further advice contact Ross on 07941 315214 01435 812 153 or visit