With a cool spring this year, the daffodils are still with us. Easter is past and all the Easter eggs eaten and the swallows are back. Perhaps their early return is a sign of a good summer to come.
We, of course, have been busy pruning, Nearly every day sees us pruning our pleached lime tree avenues.
During April we see our ‘Snakes Head’ fritillaries flowering, alongside the daffodils and narcissi.
I hope the weather stays cool, as we are a little behind this year and warm weather would cause the buds to break.
Our greenhouses are filling up rapidly too, with our summer bedding plants.
Now is the time to prune any winter and early spring shrubs that are finishing flowering, or any evergreen shrubs and hedging.
As the soil is warming up it will be o.k. to sow hardy annual seeds straight outdoors into the borders. Children love to help in the garden and easy hardy annuals will give you and them a lot of pleasure when they flower. Flowers that attract bees to feed on them are very popular. Grass seed will germinate readily too, so patch up any worn or dead places in your lawn by giving it a really good raking, sow a little grass seed on the prepared spots, brush it in lightly and top off with a little fresh soil or compost.
Lawns will also benefit from a dressing of spring and summer fertiliser. Be especially careful though to follow the instructions on the packet, as many accidents of scorched and burnt grass happen if it is not washed into the soil.
It is also a great time to plant shrubs and herbaceous plants, but do make sure you water them regularly, as the container compost can dry out quickly before the plants establish.
Be careful to protect those young bedding plants from frosts. Later on, If they are large enough to come out of the greenhouse, harden them off in a cold frame. Close it at night and even give a little extra protection by covering them with horticultural fleece or newspaper.
In the vegetable garden keep sowing small amounts of salad crops for a long succession in about three months time, it takes 11 weeks to grow a lettuce. Sow a tub, or patch, of mixed salad seedlings to give a quick catch crop. It is also time to plant Potatoes and sow onions. It’s still not too late to sow tomato seeds, or buy plants, the little tumbling toms are great for children to grow. Why not add a Rhubarb plant too.
Hopefully, we will now have a good summer. With the dry weather we need to save using as much water as we can and garden wisely. Here are my tips. Can you install a water butt for when it next rains? Can you mulch beds and borders? Do you have large tubs and planters instead of small ones that can dry out more quickly? Do you incorporate water retension granules into hanging baskets and containers? Can you save washing up and bath water to water essential plants? Can you fill every inch of visible soil to shade it and slow moisture loss? Finally, Plant some lilies, they don’t need much watering and will still flower well.