A cold spell at the end of March put a sudden check on growth; but higher temperatures arrived at the beginning of April which brought leaf and flower buds bursting into life, writes Jackie Power…
April is usually chilly with north easterly winds – and they returned mid-month pushing temperatures down especially at night. Signs are it will remain cool, sunny and settled with very little rainfall during the month. But that could change!
The work schedule in the garden is increasing steadily; weeds need clearing before they get established. Green alkanet, an attractive plant but very invasive – likes to take over gardens (if allowed), paths and will grow in walls; its deep fleshy roots have to be dug out to prevent it spreading. It also seeds everywhere. Other weeds like Dandelions, Couch grass and Herb robert have sprung up taking advantage of the early warm weather.
Keep areas around roses weed free, mulch using either leaf mould or well rotted manure. Hybrid Tea and shrub Roses are highly susceptible to pest and disease attacks especially in dry or very wet weather; to ensure vitality, feed throughout the spring and summer months to help plants be more resistant to colonisation by aphids, or to diseases like rust and powdery mildew. Seaweed extract is a useful organic plant conditioner – available from the www.organiccatalogue.com
Many spring shrubs flowered at the same time as ornamental Cherries – producing stunning displays of blossom. The translucent blue of Ceanothus flowers in perfect contrast to the yellow of Kerria and Forsythia. Bluebells popped up early to be with Forget-Me-Nots; Wisteria has decided to flower – unable to wait until May to reveal purply-blue (or white) perfumed racemes.
Houseplants are likely to need attention as they come back into growth; remove dead leaves, repot if needed or top up containers with new compost. Move plants out of direct sunlight if on window ledges – the heat generated through the glass will scorch leaves. Increase watering and use a liquid feed every month (or as per instructions on the label); make sure plants are not constantly saturated or sitting in water. (Most houseplants die from overwatering).
Sow salad veg and herb seeds in small trays or pots on the window sill – a mix of lettuces, beetroots, radishes, cress and Basil. These can be moved to window boxes or hanging baskets (or the garden/allotment) later on. There is high demand online for seeds and plants as most nurseries and garden centres remain closed at this time. Check the following suppliers – Dobies www.dobies.co.uk Chilterns www.chilternseeds.co.uk/ or Victoriana nursery – www.victoriananursery.co.uk