According to George Latimer Apperson’s ‘Dictionary of Proverbs’, we can trace the phrase “April showers bring May flowers” to an 1886 saying – “March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers” – which might have even deeper roots in a 1610 poem and with many centuries on, the weather appears to be following suit!
As Expect these inevitable April showers and (hopefully) some sunny days too, you can turn your attention to a huge number of tasks in preparation for the warmer months ahead:
Greenhouse – Give it a thorough clean with hot soapy water. This will get rid of pests and diseases and let in more light.
Late Frosts – Keep cloches or large sheets of fleece handy to protect young plants if a late frost is forecast.
Water Butts – It is always worth the investment especially if you are a keen gardener and on a water meter. Position them under a downpipe from the house, shed or even greenhouse to make the most of the rainfall.
Ponds – Put pumps and fountains back into ponds and give the filters a thorough clean first. Also place a bag of barley straw in the pond to discourage algae and keep the water clear.
Lift & divide perennial plants – Do this now as left too late you will damage new delicate growth. The aim is to improve vigour, provide much needed breathing space and save money by creating many new plants for the garden.
Feed trees, shrubs and hedges – Add a good quality slow-release fertiliser, by lightly forking it into the soil surface. Roses are greedy plants and will greatly benefit from feeding as new shoots appear.
Tree Ties & Suckers – Make sure they’re not cutting into
the trunk. Loosen any that are tight, to allow the trunk to expand. I favour expandable rubber or flexible plastic ones. At the same time cut away unwanted suckers growing around the base of the tree.
Tie in Climbers – Roses, clematis and honeysuckle stems will be sprouting and the fresh shoots will need to be trained along their supports. Use a good quality garden twine and tie in a figure of 8 between the support and shoot. This allows the shoot room to move slightly and expand without strangling it.
Lawns – There is a lot to do! Repair any bare patches in your lawn by sowing seed. Make sure the surface is well prepared soil and kept moist while it germinates. Brush away any worm casts on dry days. Recut lawn edges to straighten them up or install a timber, stone, brick or metal edge to make future maintenance easier. Finally mow the lawn more regularly. Lower the height of your mower towards the end of the month as lawns look better and have more use during the warmer months.
Weed-killer – Apply to perennial weeds in paving and patios. Pay good attention to pernicious weeds, such as nettles and brambles as these seem more problematic if allowed to thrive. Most of our customers remember the ‘Pre EU’ days and believe that weed-killers are still residual such as Paraquat. But this has not been the case for many years and we use a non-residual Glyphosate which is child, animal and eco-friendly.
Pests & Diseases – Early prevention is easier than dealing with an infestation. Look out for clusters of aphids on shoot tips and young leaves, and wipe off before they multiply. There are many concoctions you can buy from the garden centre but I use a dash of washing up liquid in a handheld diffuser or find a family of Ladybirds and re-home them to the affected plant!
Bird Baths & Feeders – Encourage birds into your garden and keep them there by putting out food, especially now as they are raising their broods.