April and May in your Garden
APRIL is a time of major activity in the garden. Plants will be putting on lots of new growth and so will be glad of some feeding. A general purpose fertiliser such as blood, fish and bone is best, applying it at the recommended rate as stated on the package.
The soil should be warm enough to sow seeds directly into the ground. Hardy annuals such as pot marigolds, love in the mist, candytufts, cornflowers and nasturtiums can be planted in the positions that you want them to grow. Sunflowers can also be sown. Sow the seeds in recognisable shapes so as to distinguish them from weeds.
Balmy days will promote weed growth of course so try and stay on top of the weeding as small weed seedlings are easily destroyed with a hoe. Choose a dry, sunny day to do your hoeing. More persistent, perennial weeds like dandelions should be dug out by hand whilst the most difficult infestations can be treated with a weedkiller like glyphosate. If necessary, choose a dry day & paint this chemical on individual leaves to prevent it getting on the plants you want to keep. In a week or so the weed will have taken up the chemical and will start to die back. Some like Japanese knotweed, and, in the wrong place, ivy and bramble will probably need several treatments to kill them off completely. To discourage weeds in the coming months apply mulch and consider filling up any gaps, particularly at the front of the borders and between shrubs, with suitable ground cover plants.
Bulbswhich have flowered earlier on should be deadheaded and the leaves allowed to die down. A liquid feed at this time can help them build up reserves for next year.
April is the time to plant evergreens such as new evergreen hedges (yew, pyracantha, bay) and shrubs like phormiums while spring flowering shrubs can be pruned as soon as their flowers have faded. Grey leaved plants such as lavender & curry plant can be trimmed (by 2.5-5cm)and reshaped but do not cut into the old wood. To keep deciduous shrubs such as forsythia, kerria, winter jasmine & flowering currents in shape, cut back the stems that have just flowered to strong young shoots lower down. You could also remove about 20% of the older stems at their base to encourage new growth.