CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Chris Beardshaw: Gardening in April

PUBLISHED: 15:21 18 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:52 20 February 2013

Chris Beardshaw's new column for April

Chris Beardshaw's new column for April

April really is the month where most change is observed in the garden. It often starts as an extension of winter with gardeners earnestly checking plants for life but by the end of the month the garden and landscape has been transformed as colour ...

April really is the month where most change is observed in the garden. It often starts as an extension of winter with gardeners earnestly checking plants for life but by the end of the month the garden and landscape has been transformed as colour washes through in leaf and flower.

Favourite places of mine this month are the many woodlands found across the Cotswolds. The lush, green foliage of the understory plants such as Dog's Mercury, Foxglove and Geranium provide the perfect foil to show off the Bluebells and Ransoms which carpet the floor of the woods. Streamside's babble with life of early marginal and aquatic species and hedgerows explode into blossom - it seems impossible to not be won over by nature's optimism.



Jobs



Lavender


Lavender plants can have their life significantly extended if gardeners carry out carefully timed pruning. The first prune should be done this month by pinching out the tips of freshly grown shoots, removing up to 5cm in length. This stops excessive leggy growth and encourages plenty of side shoots on which flowers will be carried later in summer. The second pruning is completed in a similar way after the flowers have faded in late summer.



Water Lilies


Aquatic plants like Water Lilies are slow to break into spring growth but as they start to show signs of life over the next few weeks prepare to lift and divide congested clumps. Carefully lift mature plants from the base of the pond, hose down the tangled root mass, trimming off old shoots and decaying rhizomes as you go. Then, slice the thick stems into sections up to 15cm long ensuring each has shoots and roots clearly visible. Pot the sections on into aquatic pots lined with fleece and filled with specialist aquatic compost, place the rhizome of the lily just below or on the surface of the compost. Cover the compost with a layer of coarse grit to prevent fish disturbing it then gently lower into the shallow water. Allow each new leaf to fully emerge at the surface before moving the plant to deeper water in stages.



Control of Slugs and Snails:


This is the ideal time to prevent populations of slugs and snails getting out of control. Regularly water the ground, pots and containers with biological nematode control - available from specialist suppliers. Attacking the young pests at this stage helps to stop the development of mature egg laying generations. One important key to success with nematodes is related to their reliance on water, as once applied; ensure that the soil moisture is maintained with regular irrigation.



Plant up Baskets:


Despite the likely-hood of frosts occurring for another month, now is the ideal time to plant up baskets and containers with exotic bedding plants. Whatever the nature of the container you are filling do ensure good drainage holes are present and fill with a fresh compost made up of 50% soil based media and 50% organic matter as this combination displays good water retention abilities while adding mass and good re-wetting properties. It is also worth adding a water storing polymer and quick release (3 month) granular fertiliser to maintain great flowering throughout summer. After planting up allow the exotic plants to acclimatise in a frost free environment for a month or so before transferring to their flowering positions.



Ponds


Help to keep your pond clear of algae this summer by submerging a bundle of Barley Straw in to the shallows now. Aquatic stores sell mats and balls of the straw which should be tethered just below water level, as it decomposes it is thought to release compounds that, although not harmful to aquatic life, controls the growth of algae.



Hardy Annuals


It is not too late for injecting a flourish of colour in bare areas of the garden by sowing hardy annuals such as Calendula, Nigella and Escholtzia. Cultivate the ground lightly, raking level and into a fine crumb-like finish. Avoid applying fertilisers as most of these rapidly growing plants prefer slightly impoverished soils but do keep soils moist throughout plant establishment. Scatter seeds liberally and rake in gently. For an informal feel try mixing all seeds together in a tray before sowing, alternatively create choreographed schemes by etching patterns on the newly cultivated soil with a cane, and then sow individual species. Although normally sown earlier in the year, a late sowing of these plants provides flowering within 8 weeks.



Rub Fruit Buds


Plums and Cherries trained against walls, fencing and wires can be shaped now as the buds start emerging. The principle involves gently rubbing buds away that are emerging in unwanted areas. Those that face the wall, or support are the most important to remove and doing so now is not only easier than pruning later but also allows the plant to concentrate its energies on favourable growth and fruiting.




My Diary:


This month will be spent making frequent trips to the Isle of Wight to check on progress of the new garden I have designed for Carisbrooke Castle, owned by English Heritage. The garden is to honour Princess Beatrice, Queen Victoria's daughter, who lived at Carisbrooke for nearly 50 years of her life. I will also be flying back out to Bahrain to take part at the Bahrain International Flower Show and to check on progress with the landscape development of a new residential and golf and country club resort which I have been working on for the last year.

Look out for further details on all these projects on www.chrisbeardshaw.com.

If you want to ask gardening questions then I'm frequently found on www.gardenersclick.com so do visit and meet our other gardening members.

0 comments

More from Homes & Gardens

56 minutes ago

Property prices across Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds have risen steadily over the last few years, reflecting the trend across the country. But which area has shown the most dramatic hike in prices recently, and how does your postcode and house type compare with others in the area? You may be surprised to see the results...

Read more
56 minutes ago

From mini Norway spruces to luxury Nordman firs, here are eight of the best places to get a luscious, green tree in the Cotswolds this festive season

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

After a new home in the Cotswolds or looking to relocate within the region? We bring you 16 of the best housing developments in the area

Read more

Neil and Alison Smith wanted a project, but then their old coach house began to reveal its interesting little glitches

Read more
Monday, October 22, 2018

When your wood flooring is in need of TLC, help is at hand, says Scarlett Harris of ATC in Cheltenham

Read more
Friday, October 12, 2018

Martin Smart, a director at Shipston-based Hayward Smart Architects, extols the value of appointing an architect

Read more
Friday, October 5, 2018

We look through the keyhole of some of the Cotswolds’ most luxurious houses on the property market

Read more
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

As we head into Autumn, the change in season is all around us. From the leaves on the trees turning burnt orange and fiery red, to dark mornings and nights bookending our days. As we put the clocks back an hour to battle the darkness, here’s some top tips on how you can keep your home warm and costs down this Autumn.

Read more

Sometimes it can seem like destiny plays a hand at where we end up living, as Fiona and John Owen discovered when they found their dream converted chapel in Chalford

Read more
Friday, August 31, 2018

Rural energy provider, Calor, gives some top tips for homeowners wanting to make their houses cosy and warm in time for the colder months.

Read more

Water voles and trench warfare were just two of the problems faced by the family renovating a 1720s hunting lodge

Read more

The small, dark rooms of this 1850s cottage near Tetbury were completely reconfigured to open up the space

Read more
Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Cirencester based kitchen manufacturer and showroom has won a prestigious national trade award for the second year running

Read more

When internationally-renowned sculptor Sophie Ryder bought her derelict 20-acre cattle farm near Cirencester nearly 30 years ago, she set about the huge task of designing and building a unique Cotswold stone home

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search