April: perfect gardens (not)

Oh my word. How did this all happen so quickly? A few weeks ago I was scratching around doing a bit of pruning then dashing inside as the rains came down. I now look at the work then at my diary: a mild sense of panic rises in me as I wonder how on earth I will get it all done?

I must be a goldfish: its not as if this doesn't happen every year. Yes, every year. And the solution is the same every year too. (At these moments I have the unfortunate habit of remembering songs from musicals. "Just start at the very beginning, a very god place to start". (You know the rest).

So, firstly I make a list of priorities. What can wait a while and what is urgent? Under the urgent heading for me is getting the unfinished rose pruning done, feeding them with Rose fertiliser and chopping back the tougher evergreen shrubs such as Bay Laurel, Escallonnia and Griselinia to renovate and rejuvenate them. These are easy, bold tasks that have an instant effect. 

There. I feel better already. So now onto the tedious but necessary job of laying the weed suppressing matting down followed by a spread of approx. 5 cms of bark mulch.  That will give the blighters something to think about and frankly, save me hours of fiddling around in the shrubbery.

I can now do the other things that I need to do and possibly even start to enjoy the exercise:

  • Having taken the terracotta pots  out of hibernation, scrape the top few inches ( 3-5 cms) of soil off the top and replace it with fresh compost. Add some plant food but spread well or water it in to avoid burning the plant root systems.
  • When the bright yellow Forsythia is over you can cut back the recently-flowered stems to the main branches. That stem will grow back and flower again the year after next.
  • Divide clumps of Snowdrops but be aware that they do not always take kindly to being moved.
  • Shrubs that enjoy a warm, Mediterranean climate are best planted now rather than in the Autumn. These include Ceonothus, Cistus, Santolina and Lavender.
  • If you put in your pond plants now, they will become established as the water warms up.
  • Be aware that birds may be nesting in hedges so have a good look before you do any trimming of evergreens.
  • Set your lawn mower on a high cut. As the season progresses you can lower the cut to a height of about one to one and a half inches ( 2.5 - 3.5 cms). 
  • Sow grass seed to repair bare patches and apply feed to add vitality to the lawn. Be careful when you do this around ponds as a shot of nitrogen will boost your pond weeds.

You won't have time to sit and relax for long as there will be a hundred other things to do. But you might, just might pause for breath and smile to yourself as you take in the miracle that is once again happening all around you.