Spring will soon be up and running and so is the Royal Horticultural Society’s National Gardening Week (14-21st April) that aims to get people gardening and into horticulture. In fact, April is the perfect time to ‘revisit’ your garden and start getting it ready for the summer months ahead. For seasoned gardeners, this month is one of the busiest in the gardening year.
It’s also the month when some of the most vibrant flowering shrubs and plants come into bloom, such as the ever popular rhododendron. A big fan of this beautiful plant is professional gardener and co-presenter of ITV’s Love Your Garden, Frances Tophill.
She says: “Rhododendrons have had a bad press in recent years with rhododendron ponticum being an ever increasing problem in our countryside, due to its effect on native habitats. Despite this there is no reason to avoid planting Rhododendron species in the garden.
“On the contrary, if you choose carefully, this plant can brighten up the darkest shade, which can be the most problematic spaces in the garden” says Frances.
“These stunning and perpetually cheerful shrubs flower in all sorts of vibrant colours during spring when we tend to think of most of the colour coming from bulbs. So why not extend the flower power of your garden from ground level to head height and beyond!
“Rhododendron will survive in most acidic soils and need hardly any pruning. Don’t be fooled into thinking that they provide spring flower and nothing more – most species we buy for the garden are evergreen so even in the depths of winter their deep, glossy leaves will provide colour.”
Alternatively, you could sow poppy seeds (and sweet pea seeds) in a container and have a colourful display in your garden, whatever its size. With so much to do, it’s just as well the days are getting longer and warmer, although there still could be the odd frost around, so be careful about planting out seedlings too soon.
Jobs to do in April
• Plant evergreen shrubs and pot grown climbers out in the garden
• Tie back climbing and rambling roses
• Watch out for sudden frost and fleece plants if necessary
• Keep an eye out for pests – snails and slugs love new foliage as do aphids
• Keep weeds under control
• Start feeding plants in the garden from now to the end of the summer
• Start to feed citrus plants
• Sow seeds directly into the soil so they can flower in the summer
• Sow vegetable seeds directly into prepared beds
• Plant summer flowering bulbs
• Sow new lawns or repair bare patches
• Prune shrubs and trees
• Apply mulch or manure to flower beds and pots
• Prepare hanging baskets
• Add new plants to ponds