April hints and tips

Products available from the trading shed when it opens are in green font.

Here I am in the middle of March, writing this advice, and wondering if we shall ever have any warm dry weather.  However, I can see buds fattening on azaleas and magnolias and the earliest Prunus trees and Camellias are in flower. The main show for Spring-flowering shrubs is usually in April and May and it is sometimes worth lifting their canopies to allow spring flowering bulbs to show off underneath them (Scillas, grape hyacinths, anemones, Narcissi, and Cyclamen coum are good candidates).

best time for bluebells







Still, it is the time to get the kitchen garden going, now the soil is warming up.

  • You can sow beans, carrots, chard, brassicas, beetroot and peas outside, and pumpkins, courgettes and sweetcorn under glass.
  • In preparation for the beans, dig a deep trench and line it with newspaper and fill it with compost to hold moisture. Then erect a bean frame of hazel poles or bamboos for support.  Twiggier pea sticks will help the peas.
  • At the beginning of April, plant early potatoes and work through to main crop by the end of the month.

In the ornamental garden:

  • Plant summer-flowering bulbs like Eucomis, gladioli, lilies and Nerine.
  • Pot up dahlia tubers
  • Prune early-flowering shrubs like Forsythia and Chaenomeles (Japanese quince)
  • Renovate Camellias, Euonymus, Photinia by hard pruning, and Hebe, Fatsia, Mahonia to well-placed lower growth. Prune Cotinus (smoke bush) if you want large leaves but no flowers.
  • Feed roses with a specialist rose fertiliser or a general fertiliser like bone meal or ‘Growmore’.

April; for the best of tulips

The lawn

If your lawn is no longer a pond, repair bumps and hollows by peeling back the turf and adding or removing soil.  Apply a Spring lawn weed and feed (warning: more feed means greener grass but more mowing!)

If you think a wild flower meadow is less arduous, you might be wrong – refer to RHS.org.uk.


Visits (maybe closed, check websites)

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.

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 Mar – November

Open for the ngs in aid of charity (ngs.org.uk)

5th April: Bramdean House, Alresford SO24 0JU

24th, 25th April: Bluebell Wood, Alton GU34 5SX

26th April: Hatchlands Park GU4 7RT (open other days, National Trust)

Events (check if cancelled)

1st April:  Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants, Whitchurch RG28 7FA ‘How to grow Spring-flowering Perennials’ with Rosy Hardy

21st April: ‘How to grow Late-Spring flowering perennials’ with Rosy Hardy

Both talks/tours from 10.30 – 12.30; Cost £12 for RHS members, £15 non-members. Book on 01256 896533 or on-line at hardysplants.co.uk