Time to get started in the garden

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April is here, and it’s finally time to start getting busy, says gardener Pete Harcom. Warmer temperatures come with lots of garden jobs!

Now’s the time to plant your hollyhocks, foxgloves and other cottage garden favourites for some summer colour

The soil will slowly be warming up, so there is lots to do now! Having said that, watch out for frosts at night, and resist the temptation to sow and plant out too early. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and wait a few days if necessary.

Jobs for April

  • Sweet Peas can be sown outdoors this month, or you can plant out any autumn-sown ones.
  • Remember to protect early outdoor sowings with fleece if a frost is warned.
  • The lawn will need attention from now on, including sowing some fresh grass seed on any bare spots. Aerate the lawn by spiking with a lawn aerator or a garden fork – this can be done a few times per year.
  • You can purchase lawn aerator spiked shoes that fit over your boots, to do the job (NB you may have to join the Ministry of Funny Walks!).
  • There is still time to move, divide and plant herbaceous perennials – geranium, Astrantia coronaria, hostas and delphiniums. Don’t forget to check for any couch grass or other weeds within the crown of the plant.
  • Hydrangea macrophylla can be pruned back by approximately a third now. TIP – plant the cuttings in the ground in a sheltered spot and they will have rooted within the year.
  • Watch out for aphids, even at this time of year.
  • Don’t spray with nasty insecticide, just squeeze them between your fingertips. This way, there’ll be a few left for the birds!
  • Turn over the compost heap using a fork – but be careful, there may be some overwintering hedgehogs or grass snakes in there! Grass snakes sometimes like the warmth and use a compost heap to lay their eggs.
  • There is still time to prune roses back to hard stems and open up the centre of the bush if possible; this lets air and sun in. Also give them a mulch of well-rotted manure.
  • Deadhead all the tulips and daffodils to help them put energy into root growth and flowers for next year.
  • A cold greenhouse will be sufficiently warm this month to start sowing annual and biennial seeds for favourites like foxgloves, hollyhocks, nemesia, rudbeckia and French marigolds.
  • Order your summer-flowering seeds and bulbs!
  • Check your outdoor pots aren’t drying out – they can, even at this time of year. Also, now’s the time to start increasing the watering of your house plants.

Sponsored by Thorngrove Garden Centre

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