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Flower Garden - April

  • Plant container-grown shrubs, perennials and alpines. Dig a planting hole larger than the size of the container and fork a planting mixture into the soil.  Always water well after planting.

  • April is a good time to plant evergreen hedges including conifers and hollies. Fork a planting mixture into the soil and water thoroughly. Continue to water if the weather is dry – this is especially important with evergreens as they will not show signs of drought damage until it’s too late to prevent dieback.

  • Sooner or later, perennials will need dividing – ideally this should be done every three to five years. Once a plant starts to become woody or to die back at the centre it will benefit from being split and replanted. Early April is a good time of year to tackle this. Dig up the plant and split it up into several pieces making sure each has a good share of root, Discard any woody or dead material. Dig over and enrich the area for replanting using your favourite J Arthur Bower’s or New Horizon soil conditioner and general plant food. Once planted, water in well and mulch.

  • Weeds can quickly multiply if left and it’s best to remove them when they’re tiny. Try not to think of weeding as a chore – treat it as a way of getting to know your garden better while also getting some fresh air. After weeding, mulch your borders with homemade compost or New Horizon Mulch & Mix. Always apply mulch over moist soil i.e. after rain. 

  • Prune shrubs that have finished flowering such as Winter Jasmine, Forsythia and Chaenomeles (ornamental quince). Then feed with  your favourite J Arthur Bower’s or New Horizon plant food and mulch with New Horizon Mulch & Mix. 

  • Trim Lavenders and other grey-leaved shrubs such as Santolinas, Rue, Perovskia and Helichrysum (curry plant) by cutting off about 5cm (2 inches) of growth. Plants such as these flourish on poor, well-drained soils and don’t need feeding.

  • Hydrangeas are justly popular for their huge flowers in glowing shades of pink, blue and mauve. To keep them healthy and compact they need pruning each April. First remove all the dead flower-heads so you can see what you are doing. Cut out all dead and crossing branches as well as any spindly ones. Cut out a few of the older thick branches – this will encourage the plant to make healthy new growth. Finally trim every branch back to a healthy shoot. Feed with J Arthur Bower’s Fish Blood & Bone or New Horizon Multi-Purpose Plant Food.

  • The flowers of spring bulbs will be dying off now. Leave the foliage and flowers for four to six weeks after flowering, as this will strengthen the bulbs. Feed daffodils and hyacinths with J Arthur Bower’s Sulphate of Potash (see March Garden Calendar) to build up the bulbs. Remove tulip foliage when it is brown to prevent the spread of the fungal disease Tulip Fire. It is often better to lift tulip bulbs and store them.

  • Hardy annuals can be sown in the open garden now and will provide quick colour. If you sow them in short rows you’ll find it easier to thin them and to tell them apart from weed seedlings. If the soil is dry, water before sowing, or better still, sow when the soil is moist after rain.

  • Plant out young sweet pea plants in prepared ground. Remember that sweet peas need deep friable soil. Fork your favourite J Arthur Bower’s or New Horizon plant food into the soil before planting and water well.

  • The Clematis you pruned last month will be putting on masses of growth now. Spend a bit of time training it and tying it in, otherwise you’ll find it makes a tangled mass. If you start training early you can spread the new shoots widely and get a far better display. Be careful as the young shoots are brittle and easily broken. Feed your Clematis if you haven’t already, choosing your favourite J Arthur Bower’s or New Horizon plant food.

Roses

  • This really is your last chance to prune bedding roses. Don’t forget to feed them with J Arthur Bower’s Rose Food once the job is done.

  • New rose growth is very attractive to aphids and can quickly become covered. If you have only a few roses and prefer not to use a chemical spray, the aphids can be washed off with diluted washing up liquid, or simply blasted with a jet of water. You may have to do this a couple of times but after that the growth will toughen up and will no longer attract these sap-sucking pests.

 

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