Springing into action

April is the month when many gardeners come out of hibernation. It’s a bit of a sprint to tick off all the jobs on the lengthy list hanging on the back of the shed door. Winter never really makes it easy – a lot of things which should have been done in March tend to have to be put on hold, which is why the rush is on now.

Trumpet Major: Wait until the flowers fade before dead-heading spring daffodils.

So, the pressure’s on to plant summer-flowering bulbs and cut back any dead foliage left on perennials which are now beginning to throw out new growth.

And as soon as though two jobs are done, the work really starts – planting, pruning, sowing, feeding, mowing... Forget about sleep because the garden is waking up and needs you now.

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If the daffodils are looking past their best, dead-head them, but leave the foliage untouched. Better still, water the leaves with a weak general-purpose fertiliser.

Start weeding – anything which has taken root where it’s not welcome should be removed. You may find one or two self-seeded plants worth cultivating, so lift them and pop them into pots to grow them on.

Mow the lawn when conditions allow – that means when it’s not too wet or frozen.

If that’s just not possible, trim the edges to keep things looking relatively tidy. Applying a combined moss killer/fertiliser will help green up the lawn and kill off many unwanted plants.

Prune early-flowering shrubs; tie in shoots of rampant climbers; check the supports of trees and shrubs to make sure they are fit for purpose after months of being blown and battered by winter winds; keep an eye out for slugs and snails and deal with them before they become a major problem; take a breather.

Then it’s back to sowing greenhouse crops (that’s if you have a greenhouse; alternatively, use the conservatory or even a well-lit window sill) and planting up hanging-baskets and keeping them somewhere frost-free until the start of June when it should – hopefully – be safe for them to go outdoors.

And that’s just about it for the week. Take another breather because in a few days it will be May and with it the prospect of better things to come – warmer weather being at the top of the list.

And there’ll be a lot more work to do.