April Gardening

April Gardening by Ewshot Gardener

After such a cold spell in February and the snow in March, it is reassuring to find that Spring flowers were not held back much and the slugs and snails were comatose for a bit longer!

April sees the best of tulips, wallflowers and polyanthus; elegant magnolias, lush camellias and cheerful rhododendrons put on their show to my delight.

Ornamental garden

  • The main risk of frost is past, so you can direct sow sweet peas and plant out Dahlias, Cannas, Gladioli, lilies and Nerines.
  • Prune Forsythia and Chaenomeles after flowering and, if you like the look of striking large leaves on your Cotinus (smoke bush), prune it hard back; you will not get any ‘smoke’ i.e. flowers though.
  • Trim back frost-damaged evergreen foliage and renovate broadleaved evergreens like Pittosporum, Photinia, Hebe, Fatsia and Mahonia
  • It is safe now to cut down the old stems of Gaura, Penstemon and Verbena bonariensis.
  • Remove old foliage from Pulmonaria (lung wort) at flowering time to make room for the new, more decorative leaves that will develop.
  • Direct sow sunflowers, poached egg plants, California poppies and pot marigolds.
  • Apply weed & feed to lawns on a day when the leaves are dry but rain is expected

Kitchen Garden

  • Keep planting potatoes and keep sowing beetroot, carrots, lettuce, radish, turnip, peas, spinach and parsnips. Sow brassicas into a seed bed or pots.

I like to sow radishes in the same row as parsnips because they germinate quickly, marking the position of the slowcoach parsnips

  • Sow sweet corn, courgettes and beans indoors; wait until May to sow them direct.
  • Prune young plum and cherry trees as leaf buds open.
  • Open doors and vents of greenhouses during the day to prevent overheating.

Magnolia at Exbury

Places to visit in April

Tylney Hall Hotel and Gardens Rotherwick, Hook. RG27 9AZ www.tylneyhall.co.uk free to RHS members and hotel guests: 66 acres,  including a Gertrude Jekyll designed water garden and an Italianate garden. Open daily 12th March – 28th October

Exbury Gardens near Beaulieu SO45 1AZ www.exbury.co.uk , is wonderful for Azaleas, rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias.  RHS members free in March, August and September. Open 10am-6pm from 11 Mar – 4th November

The Old Thatch and Millenium Barn in Winchfield RG27 8DD is open on 8th April for National Garden scheme (www.ngs.org.uk)