Our garden expert Phil McCann will be keeping us informed about what's he's been up to each week in his garden with his Gardener's Diary. From how he's dealt with the weather each week brings to keeping an eye on that bird food theif, keep up to date with Phil and his gardening right here.
He'll also be keeping us up to date with all the gardening events which will be happening over the country, check in his diary and below to see what's happening near you this week. Keep an eye out, you may spot Phil there too!
Gardening events this week:
7th-9th April - RHS Cardiff Flower Show - Bute Park, Cardiff Castle
8th April - Plant Hunters' Fair - Hoghton Tower, Lancashire
8th-9th April - Southwest Home and Garden Show - Westpoint, Exeter
9th April - Plant Hunters' Fair - Middleton Hall, Tamworth
23rd April - Spetchley Specialist Plant Fair - Spetchley Park Gardens, Worcester
13th April - NNCPG Building Outdoor Structures Workshop - Bargaly, Dumfries and Galloway
13th-17th April - Easter Trail - West Dean Gardens, West Sussex
14th April - Plant Hunters' Fair - Whittington Castle, Shropshire
15th April - Plant Hunters' Fair - Bodenham Arboretum, Worcestershire
16th-17th April - Plant Hunters' Fair - Dorothy Clive Garden, Shropshire
20th-23rd April - Harrogate Spring Flower Show - Harrogate, North Yorkshire
21st-23rd April - The Garden show - Firle Place, East Sussex
22nd April - Plant Hunters' Fair - Sugnall Walled Garden, Staffordshire
23rd April - Plant Hunters' Fair - Consall Gardens, Staffordshire
28th-29th April - Toby's Garden Festival - Powderham Castle, nr Exeter
29th April - Plant Hunters' Fair - Norton Priory,
30th April-1st May - Plant Hunters' Fair - Weston Park, Shifnal
30th April-1st May - Spring Garden and Leisure Show - Ardingley, Sussex
To find out more visit the RHS website here
Top tips for April:
- Spring tidy up – out with the old, ready for the new
- Keep up the slug vigil but add greenfly, blackfly and blight
- Give your lawn some post-winter TLC
- Feed your roses and shrubs
- Trim winter flowering shrubs and evergreen hedges
- Plant new container plants
- Split perennials
- Give your greenhouse a good clean
- Start sowing your veg
- Buy basket and container plug plants
Phil's tip of the week:
"Cover crowns of rhubarb with a bucket or rhubarb forcer to exclude light. This forces the shoots up resulting in tender tasty stalks for your pies and crumbles. Take the bucket off after two weeks or so."
April in a nutshell:
There’s loads to do in the garden this month so be prepared for a few busy garden weekends - get the coffee on and the doughnuts in! Spring is well and truly underway but there is still the risk of frost until after mid-May. This month things really start to get under way as Magnolias look resplendent with their large goblet flowers, Chaenomeles (Japonica)covered in pink and orange, pink Ribes, yellow Forsythia and Prunus trees are heavy with blossom – what a picture!
Spring tidy up:
Keep an eye on the weeds and yank ‘em out as soon as you see any. Collect up old leaves, carefully trim back old growth on perennials (watching out for new shoots at the base), deadhead and tie up old foliage on spring bulbs… and that’s just for starters!
Keep up the vigil:
If you have any box or holly trees looking a bit pale and sick it could be blight, if so you need to cut out all affected growth and burn it, if that’s most of the plant then yank it out and replant, but spray the soil with an anti-fungal treatment as well to destroy spores in the soil. Whilst your working have a good look for greenfly and blackfly on new shoots or buds and get rid of them!
Feed your roses and shrubs:
Trim back any dead, damaged or diseased growth. Then give them a liquid feed - it’s like a tonic. Next, scatter a slow release granular feed and mulch with either tree bark or compost around the base. Looks better already.
Secateurs in hand, check they’re sharp and clean, remove any frost damaged shoots from evergreens. Can you see any stems with brown tips? they’re the ones your looking for, cut back just beyond the brown tip to a bud. On the subject of evergreens, now is the last opportunity to move them before they’re in full growth.
You can prune back winter flowering shrubs to fit their space, neaten them up and encourage lots of new shoots for next winter’s flowers. Have you got any Lavenders? They need a trim too but not into bare wood, or Helichrysum the grey one that smells just like curry powder and Santolina the same, this will shape them up and encourage more flowers.
Don’t be too enthusiastic with those secateurs and resist the temptation to prune spring flowering shrubs until after they’ve flowered, even if they’re overgrown, enjoy the flowers then cut them back,
Plant new container plants:
If you fancy an ornamental tree or new shrub now is the time to buy and plant container grown specimens. Don’t forget to stake the tree and tie it for support in windy weather – it helps it to make a good root system. Of course, add your mycorrhizal fungi treatment for optimal root system development.
Existing clumps that are too big can be dug up and split - with a sharp spade or two forks back to back -into smaller clumps and replanted. So, it’s plant one get three or four free a few years later!
Clean your greenhouse:
A good clean with Jeyes fluid or suitable disinfectant will get rid of lingering spores and other nasty bacteria. Remember to wear those lovely yellow rubber gloves – it’s strong stuff! Remove any moss and debris, make sure seed trays are clean, check seeds for use by dates and you’re ready for sowing.
Start sowing your veg:
In the greenhouse, sow tomatoes, cucumber, summer veg and mixed salad into trays or modules. If you want to get a head start on outdoor veg you can sow French beans, squash, peas and leeks as well. After the risk of frost, these can all be planted out.
On the veg patch, laying black plastic, bubble wrap or even old carpet down for a week or two will soon warm the soil up ready for sowing carrots, peas, winter cabbages and broccoli seeds. Do keep an eye on the forecast and protect the delicate seedlings with horticulture fleece if a late frost is forecast.