My Garden by Philippa Thomas

As our days lengthen and our nights warm up, it’s about enjoying These Precious Moments In Our Gardens, That Truly Is, What Matters. April is traditionally, one of the busiest times of seed sowing.  The reality for so many of us, involves cramming our gardening activities into a dedicated hour or two – , of our well anticipated and earned weekend,- in between chores and grocery shopping….  Even so, most of us, like to think of gardening, more as a fun activity that can help us de-stress, keep fit and entice us to express our creativity.

It is presently, such a busy time in the greenhouse with plants to be sown, seedlings to be pricked out and larger plants to be grown on. It is best not to water in the evenings, as nights are still cool and damp conditions could encourage fungal disease.  It’s so beneficial to leave doors open on a sunny day as air circulation will enhance and boost healthy growth……Some tough little flowers that are easy to sow are Nigella, (Love-in-a mist), Calendulas, Eschscholzias, (California poppy) and Sunflowers.  You can sow them where you want them to flower but for best, most reliable results, sow them indoors in modular trays and then, plant them outside when they are bigger.  Cornflowers, few blooms are as blue as these dazzling Centaurea Cyanus.  Sow them in April/ May in full sun, where they are to flower in high Summer.  Raising plants from seed for some, is simply exhilarating but some seeds are easier to sow than others….so, perhaps best to choose, plants that will thrive in your site and soil type.  ….Sichizonthus, (also called butterfly flower or poor-man’s-orchid), Zinnias and Cosmos can be sown on windowsills, indoors, now.  My favourite flower grown from seed is Larkspur (Consolida Ajacis).  They are an excellent cut flower for a vase, lasting a good two weeks and add height and a ‘cottagy feel’, to your Posy arrangement… Really, the joy of growing your own cut flowers is that, ultimately, you have the freedom to choose what you want to pick and arrange.  …So, isn’t it important to consider how long a flower will last in a vase.  …It seems a shame to pick flowers that may last for weeks on the plant in the garden but once cut shed their petals within hours or overnight.  Some flowers can have a vase life of up to a fortnight and some of these, you can grow yourself and cannot buy in a supermarket or in a florist.

Did You Know ???

Did you know that Spanish bluebells were originally grown as garden plants but they have been crossbred with many of our native bluebells.   The sweet scent of native bluebells is one of the ways to tell them apart, as Spanish ones are unscented.  Spanish ones also tend to be a paler shade of blue and their flowers grow all around the stem which has a broader leaf.  Our native bluebells flower, mostly on one side and tend to droop from the top.

Bee – Active and Think About -,

Bees, from hefty buff-tailed bumble queens that look almost too large to fly, to tiny little species, (half the size of the print on this page,) are vegetarians – eating only pollen and nectar, so they are absolutely dependant upon flowers, but they have different tongues and flight periods, flowers of the right shape need to be in bloom at the right time of the year. A bee will visit several hundred flowers in one day.  “Long-tongued bees need trumpet-shaped flowers, – others with tiny tongues, need them flat topped”.

Might Do, Maybe April Jobs.

  1. There is still time to dig up perennials, pull them gently into pieces with roots and shoots.
  2. Get More Next Year. Liquid-feeding spring bulbs and dead-heading them as their flowers fade will help you get more blooms next year, as the bulbs channel their energy into future flowers instead of making seeds.  Better not to tie up daffodil foliage until it naturally turns yellow, as the bulbs need to make food.
  3. Long-term container plants can be given a well deserved boost by carefully, removing the top of compost and replacing with a layer of fresh compost with controlled and released fertiliser, mixed in.
  4. Cut back Winter Jasmine, (Jasminium nudiflorum) which can turn almost into an unsightly looking, ugly (though, never so !) bird’s nest, if left to it’s own devices ; so cut hard as soon as it finishes flowering and remember, it is most forgiving.
  5. Instead of sowing annuals directly on the ground, sow the seed onto a thin layer of washed sand, silver sand – , not builders sand. This will stop weed seeds from germinating: So, you will only get the annuals you want and not the usual tangle of weed seedlings.
  6. Beat Slugs, the easy way.  Apply some Vaseline around plant pot rims, This will help slugs and snails keep at bay.  They also dislike sliding over a layer of horticultural grit.
  7. You can plant your Gladioli bulbs in one go as these flowers naturally don’t open, all at once.

*Were you aware – , that Lily pollen, which stains badly – , apparently, is also, highly poisonous to cats.

*There is a new pink – flowered strawberry with a unique sweet flavour, apparently, full of aroma and flavour, (Thompson & Morgan Seed).

*A breeding Break Through has created a new French Marigold with flowers in totally unique, russet/pink, tones – , Marigold, ‘Strawberry Blonde’, has great weather tolerance and long season flowering, in beds, borders and containers. (Tagetes Patula).

Enjoy Every April Day. From Dawn to Dusk.