April is the month when the blossom really comes into its own. From the whites and pinks of flowering cherries and fruit trees, to the snowy coverings on hedgerows, all make their mark with a show of colour. The blackbird is singing, the nights are drawing out and the sun is beginning to have some real warmth in its rays. Warm sunny days really make you believe that the promise of summer is just around the corner. However, don’t be tempted to plant out tender plants as sharp night frosts can still catch you out, scorching the edges of tender new leaves and killing fruit tree blossom. During this month growth in the garden really starts to speed up and it can be hard work keeping up with the pace. Here is a list of jobs you should be getting on with in your garden during April.
In The Garden
Feed roses and herbaceous borders with a general purpose fertiliser. Plant out late flowering herbaceous plants and also the sweet pea seedlings you sowed in February. Sow hardy annuals outside and plant out any annual you sowed in the autumn. April is also a good month to plant a lavender hedge. Look out for bright red lily beetles on lilies and fritillaries and remove them immediately. Towards the end of the month you can also plant out dormant dahlia tubers.
April is also a good time to plant out or move evergreen trees or shrubs. Once camellias have finished flowering, shorten any straggly shoots. Prune winter jasmine and hydrangea and tie in the rapidly growing shoots of climbing roses and any newly planted climbers.
Treat any moss and weeds on your lawn with a feed and weed mix. Now is a good time to sow grass seed if you are making a new lawn area. Once the weather starts to become mild, mow your lawn at least once a fortnight or better still once a week.
In The Greenhouse
Move any young plants you have growing from the greenhouse to the cold frame to harden off before planting in the ground. Make sure you ventilate the greenhouse on warm sunny days but close up again at night to help retain the heat. Buy and pot up plug plants of annuals to use during the summer months. Sow tomato seeds and frost tender vegetables such as sweet corn and cucumbers. If you have a vine growing in your greenhouse, tie in new vine rods.
The Vegetable Plot
Now in the time to get the growing season started on your vegetable plot. Prepare your runner beans beds by digging in plenty of compost or other organic material. Sow broad beans, summer cabbage, leeks, beetroot, radish, spring onions, lettuce, carrots and onions. Plant first early and second early main crop potatoes and earth up the shoots once they poke through to protect them from frost. Look after young vegetable plants by hoeing and watering regularly, thinning out and transplanting seedlings, and supporting climbing plants such as peas and beans.
Patios and Containers
Now is the time to plant spring bedding plants and summer bulbs in garden planters. Make sure you use a general purpose compost and create good drainage by adding broken pot shards the bottom on containers and standing your pots on feet.
Jo Poultney has an RHS general certificate in horticulture.
Photo. S. Hermann & F. Richter