April allows us to see a glimpse of the summer ahead, with the days staying lighter for longer and the garden steadily blooming in every corner.
The beautiful Hycinths (Hycinthus) and lily-of-the-valley (canvallaria) come into bloom this month with their lovely, intensive scent. If you didn’t have time to plant any of these bulbs, don’t worry as they will be offered for sale in pots at your local garden centre. Create a breath-taking display outside your front door, balcony or patio by potting up lily-of-the-valley, yellow tulips and white Hyncinths side by side. Flowering bulbs feel most at home in terrocotta pots and they provide an instant garden.
For now bulbous plants provide much of the colour in the borders as well as in pots. However, to create a real impact and convey an appearance of fullness in the border, you need to plant in mass displays. If you are careful with mixing bulbs, then it is possible to have a continuous display for several weeks to come. Remember the bulbs which have flowered earlier in the spring, should be dead headed and allowed to die down.
Spring time shrubs and trees
As the days get slightly warmer, the trees and shrubs in our gardens come into leaf, and occasionally flower. Many of the evergreen shrubs flower from now onwards. Some of the most striking evergreens are the Camellias with their glossy leaves, some viburnums, early Rhododendrons and Osmanthus. Flowering trees include a large number of magnolias and willows.
Things to do in your garden this month
April iis a good time to cut back any tender border perennials like penstemons, diascias and hardy fuchias. By leaving the previous year’s growth in place until spring, the plants are given extra protection from winter frost, wind and wet. This simple delaying process should ensure that winter losses are but a few.
Divide any Herbaceous perennials now if you didn’t do so in March.
April is the best time to divide Asters and Michaelmas daisies. This is important or the clumps will become woody and even die out completely in the centre, leading to loss of flower.
This month plant out evergreens and shrubs as the soil becomes warmer but still moist from the recent rain. Prepare the ground with a good quantity of garden compost, peat and a little bone meal; before planting your tree or shrub.
Hardy annuals can now be sown during this month directly into the ground where they are to flower. With a few exceptions these hardy annuals do not need enriched soil. The surface should be raked, level and watered, then sow the seeds thinly and cover lightly with soil.
Once the seeds have germinated, seedlings should be thinned out to allow plants to develop properly.
If you are starting a kitchen garden, now is a good time to sow your vegetable seeds, providing you have prepared the beds by digging, weeding and manuring. If possible this preparation should be done over winter.
It’s time to sit back and admire your April garden as it unfolds.
By Tara de la Motte
(Editor of Sussex Homes & Gardens)