It’s time for the good jobs

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It’s every gardener’s favourite month – April’s when it finally all starts to get exciting outside the back door, says Pete Harcom

April is the month for planting up the hanging baskets – but don’t hang them out until the frosts are done

April at last! Things really do get going in the garden in April, so grab your gloves – we have lots to get done this month:

  • Deadhead your daffodils to stop them wasting energy on producing seed. Just allow the leaves to die back naturally.
  • Seed sowing can be started in earnest, especially in a heated (or even a cold) greenhouse. Annuals and biennials can now be sown – why not try some nigella (better known as love-in-a-mist), foxgloves, hollyhocks, nemesia, rudbeckia or French marigolds?
  • Plants from seeds are an easy way to encourage wildlife – especially birds – into the garden. Scatter wildflower seeds thinly over finely raked soil and water sparingly. Even if the days are warm, 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. Protect your early sowings with fleece if frost feels possible.
  • The growing lawn will possibly need attention now, including sowing fresh grass seed on any bare spots.
  • Primroses can be increased now by lifting and dividing – these delicate-looking little plants are actually quite tough and can easily be split up and spread around the garden.
  • Sow your sweet peas outdoors now at the base of their supports. If you’re already growing them in the greenhouse or cold frame (and as they grow outside), pinch out the tip as this encourages more flowers.
  • There is still time to prune hydrangeas – cut them back to a strong stem and then why not push the cuttings into a sheltered area of soil? hey root very easily.
  • Hanging baskets can now be made up in a cold greenhouse. Use a pot to stand the basket in while you plant it up. When it’s done, either hang the basket up in the greenhouse or you can leave it standing on the pot for support. Only hang the basket up outside when the danger of frost is over. The soil in hanging baskets can be mounded up, creating a large basket. If the sides are also planted, it can create a fantastic effect. Ensure the basket brackets are strong enough to take the weight of the extra soil in the basket.

Sponsored by Thorngrove Garden Centre

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