I have to confess that there has been something of the 'Basil Fawlty' in me these past weeks. Staring up at the sky I have felt like shouting "Thank you, thank you very much indeed!" Firstly there has been a pitiful amount of rain and now that lovely frost. Thank you very much indeed!
I do, however, realise that we live on an island on the edge of an ocean. Given the massive and rapid changes in the weather a few hundred miles north of Hampshire, we actually have a fairly easy time of it.
Which doesn't get the watering done when the anticipated "April Showers" don't turn up. Many a plant, especially newly planted trees, have been lost in dry springs. Do get out there a few times a week with the hose or watering can to soak the base of your trees and shrubs. An hour of gentle rain makes little impact on thirsty roots and dark clouds are no guarantee for a wet spell.
Adding a mulch to the base of trees and shrubs will help your cause: this can be rotted manure, bark chippings or even gravel - anything to keep the moisture in.
As for the frosts - just be aware that it is only when we get to June that there is any real certainty that they are over. Cover any seedlings with a fleece or fibre that will protect them from the ground frosts. It doesn't matter how warm the day was - clear skies in spring bring on cold nights. Protect any tender plants and even fruit blossoms the same way.
In order to make sure you stay on of your garden, why not devote a few hours a week to some of the following tasks? :
- There is still time to divide clumps of herbaceous plants including Hostas and Primulas once they have flowered.
- Daffodils and other bulbs will benefit from having a generous amount of time to be fed by their long, slender leaves - so wait until the end of the month before "chopping them back". You can divide the bulbs the same way you divide herbaceous plants.
- Birds are looking to feed their young so keep the bird feeders topped up and check for nests when cutting hedges.
- Put up bird boxes for swallows and other summer migrant birds
- Keep on top of the weeds by hoeing or laying matting and mulch.
- Lawns can be fed with a nitrogen rich fertiliser but beware of doing this in very dry weather as it can scorch the grass. Compost the cuttings but add something to stop the decomposing grass becoming too sour: a few centimetres of soil is fine but a Lime mix product is even better.
- Water new lawns and aim to be cutting the lawns weekly by the end of the month.
- Clip evergreen hedges and trim evergreen shrubs.
Despite the dryness and the occasional frost there really are so many exciting new colours and shapes emerging it is hard to get bored in the garden.
Even my inner 'Basil' can manage a "Thank you, thank you very much indeed".