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Gardener's Diary 

                                 April 2007


Seventy second edition -  April 2007      

Winter-Flowering Shrubs

Visits to garden centres have lost their appeal for me. With their rows of perfect plants, that appear to be an afterthought to the in store franchises selling clothes, food, furniture, gifts and everything else under the sun, they have instead become just more impersonal shopping malls.

Trees and plants in our part of the UK are in blossom a full two months earlier than last year, and it will be interesting to see how the plant life adapts to this shorter winter..

After such a wet winter a great deal of the soluble nutrients in the soil will have been washed away, so it would be beneficial to sprinkle a general fertiliser, such as blood fish and bone, or something similar, over the soil and where possible hoe into the soil's surface.

Extras for this month:-

Jobs for the month - April


An introduction from Rosemary Martin...

I have been gardening now as a hobby for about thirty years, but have no formal training..  I don't have a favourite style of gardening, traditional is nice, but I also think the modern trends work well. 

This column adds a new dimension to my interest in all aspects of horticulture and will hopefully help others find pleasure in this healthy and therapeutic pastime  ...  

Please e-mail me with your garden problems, comments, or ideas for this section of  laterlife, remembering to tell me which country you are from..  

Click here for previous editions of Gardener's Diary..

 House plants

Increase watering and feed plants more frequently. You can still repot plants that have become root bound. Choose a warm, sunny day to stand larger specimens outside and give them a wash with the hose pipe on `fine spray`and let them dry before bringing them back inside. This is a job that can also be done in the summer on a rainy day. 


April and May are good months for sowing or laying new lawns and I have covered this, and lawn care in general, a little more extensively on a separate page.  Give established lawns their first feed of the year.

Shrub borders and roses

Plant out dahlia tubers and sow hardy annuals where they are to flower. This is the time of year when I sow much of the seed I have previously collected from flowers such as miniature sunflowers and cornflowers. The flower borders will appreciate a mulching this month, which will help conserve moisture and stop weeds from growing. If you are using grass cuttings as a mulch, take care not to use the first three mowings after applying lawn feed as per the manufacturer's instructions. 

Paths, walls and fencing

There is still time to do any necessary repairs before plant growth really gets going. Use a weedkiller such as Pathclear to kill grass and weeds on concrete areas for a whole season. Examine the supports for climbing plants and replace if necessary. Pressure clean paths or other ground areas that have become slippery with moss and algae. (Read instructions carefully on weedkiller packets if you have pets)


Greenhouse Gardener's Companion: Growing Food & Flowers in Your Greenhouse or Sunspace

Increase the amount of water given to plants but keep some gentle heat on in the greenhouse during the nights as frosts will still quickly kill your new seedlings. You can also cover them with horticultural fleece..
I sometimes plant up hanging baskets this month with smaller plants but make sure to keep them frost free and watered, then by the end of May they can go  outside looking established..


The soil should be warmer and dryer now, so you can continue to sow your favourite crops. Take care not to sow the seed too thickly, poor a little of the seed into your hand and scatter it thinly along the drill you have drawn. It is great to grow your own vegetables and fruit, then you know it is free of pesticides. Some supermarkets are selling trays of salad plants that are kept on a kitchen windowsill and picked as required.. I've tried one of these which has been re-potted and lives in the conservatory..


This is the month when the fruit grower finds there is plenty of crop spraying to do to ensure a healthy crop and  prevent pests and disease. Keep a close watch on developing fruits and treat accordingly. Take care still with late frosts and cover small trees and bushes with horticultural fleece. Refer to the appropriate section of your gardening book for fruit pest and disease control.  

Trees and shrubs

Trees and shrubs will appreciate a good mulching this month to conserve water, stop weeds growing and add goodness to the soil. Look for any signs of disease or pests and spray accordingly. If there has been any late wind damage, tidy the branches so there are no ragged edges that will let the damp and disease penetrate. If you need to remove any branches of trees, there is a preparation you can buy that seals the newly sawn wood. 

Water gardens  

The Water Gardener

If you are `spring cleaning` your pond, be sure to put your fish in a large container where they can swim around quite happily until being returned to their pond, making sure that cats cannot get to them. Once you have cleaned out and re-filled the pond, allow the water to stand for a day or two to avoid any temperature changes before returning the fish. If you are re-lining a concrete pond take care to use the correct sealant afterwards, and give it ample time to dry.  Be ruthless and thin out aquatic plants. They will soon grow and fill the pond.


In April the birds are still breeding and so are most of the mammals that use our gardens. Parent birds are so busy feeding their young this month that they need concentrated body-building foods themselves such as the suet fat balls that we see in the shops especially for the birds.

Sunflower seed hearts are a favourite for the birds in our garden and even the visiting squirrel favours them above the peanuts he usually eats..

Happy gardening till next month....


Amazon book - Gardens of the National Trust. When the National Trust decided to take on the care of gardens, the aim was that these would be the very best of their kind in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Trust now has the finest collection of gardens ever assembled under one ownership..

Volunteering with the National Trust

Volunteers are active in all parts of the National Trust, from the new central office in Swindon to the summits of Snowdonia and Divis Mountain near Belfast.

View their latest opportunities, or find out more about the kind of roles and different places you can volunteer:

Still with the National Trust, some of the most visited National Trust properties are now holding regular farmers' and food markets.  Click here for details  and dates.



The Yellow Book: NGS Gardens Open for CharityRHS gardens

Their four flagship gardens not only provide year-round interest and offer a wide range of courses, talks and demonstrations, they also demonstrate the best gardening practices, new techniques and exciting new plants to try in your garden.

Or go to their website for a diary of all other events at:-


RHS Flower Shows 2007


Tickets for RHS members

Privilege rate tickets are available for RHS members to all RHS shows, but tickets must be booked in advance. Click on the individual show links below for further information.
RHS members are not charged a booking fee for tickets purchased except for advanced tickets to the Malvern shows. To find out how to become an RHS member click here


Do you take advantage of the BBC Gardening website for information? I find it a valuable source of information, for up to date legislation, countryside matters and useful information such as plant pests and diseases, which saves me ploughing through all my gardening books, with the knowledge that their information is bang up to date...


Thompson & Morgan LogoThompson & Morgan 


Visit where full information is available on their product varieties and orders can be taken on-line.  Have a look to see what is new and any special seasonal offers


Some places to visit... 



Visit the Eden Project




The living theatre of plants and people
The Eden Project is a gateway into the world of plants and people. A meeting place for all to discover how we depend on plants and how we can help to manage and conserve them for our mutual survival.


Kew Gardens two locations:-

Tel: 020 8332 5655 (24 hr)
Fax: 020 8332 5197

Royal Botanic Gardens

Tel: 01444 894066 (24 hr)
Fax: 01444 894069

Royal Botanic Gardens
Wakehurst Place
Nr Haywards Heath
West Sussex
RH17 6TN


The National Botanic Gardens of Scotland comprise:

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Scotland's Premier Garden

Benmore Botanic Garden, Argyll
Argyll's Magnificent Mountainside Garden

Dawyck Botanic Garden, Borders
Wonderful Woodland Garden

Logan Botanic Garden, Galloway
Scotland's Most Exotic Garden

The National Botanic Garden of WalesThe National Botanic Garden of Wales

The star attraction here is the 91 metre long domed glasshouse, that houses landscapes normally found in the Mediterranean. This would be a super place to visit on a chilly day...



Some websites of interest to gardeners:-


Carry on Gardening - The easier gardening web site from ThriveGardening is an important part of many people's lives. You don't have to give up gardening because of accident or illness, the onset of disability or the problems associated with growing older. The information on their website is designed to provide you with the information to Carry on Gardening.

Carry on Gardening was initiated by the horticultural charity Thrive and is funded by the National Lottery Charities Board.  It brings together information on easy ways of gardening gathered over 23 years by Thrive and research carried out since the early 1970s by Mary Marlborough Centre, Oxford, on tools and equipment for disabled and older people. 



Useful reading:-

"The Yellow Book" contains information of all Gardens of England and Wales open for charity, and can be bought priced ?5 from National Gardens Scheme

National Trust Gardens Handbook is ?6.99 and the new edition is out in May  Telephone 01394 389 950 or see their website

Amazon book - A year at Kew  Amazon book - Gardens Through Time: 200 Years of the English Garden Amazon book - RHS Plants for Places: 1000 Tried and Tested Plants for Every Soil, Site and Usage (RHS) Amazon book - RHS Encyclopedia of Gardening: RHS Bi-centennial Edition (Royal Horticultural Society)
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