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Gardener's Diary 

                                 April 2010

 

Finally the weather has warmed up and the flora and fauna is hurrying to catch up; I'm sure everywhere will soon be a blaze of colour and alive with the sounds of birdsong.

Pair of BullfinchesWe were initially worried that many bird visitors to our garden had perished during the long, cold winter. But now the garden is alive with so many different varieties such as chaffinches, robins, goldinches, blackbirds and our prized visitors, two pairs of Bullfinches who live in a damson tree next to the kitchen window. See photo on the left.

A tour of the garden shows me that some plants might have perished, but I will wait a while before exhuming them, just in case they are still alive. If you are in any doubt about whether some shrubs are still alive, snap off a bit of a branch, or rub at the bark, and if the wood is green then it's still alive..

This month I will be explaining a bit about lawn care, and another very important subject that's worth a mention at this time of year, safety in the garden.

 

 

 

 


 

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..

Jobs for the month - April

The Kitchen Garden section has now grown so big I have made a separate page for it, here

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.

Lawns

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 to winter damage 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)

greenhouseGreenhouse

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, or you can 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 really established..

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

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. Take care that Golden Orfes don't leap out as they tend to if moved. 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.

butterflyWildlife

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.



 


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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.

 


 

RHS 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:-    http://www.rhs.org.uk/WhatsOn/index.asp


Do you take advantage of the DEFRA 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  www.thompson-morgan.com 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 special seasonal offers


 

Some places to visit...

 

www.edenproject.com 

 

 

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:-

http://www.rbgkew.org.uk/

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

Royal Botanic Gardens
Kew
Richmond
Surrey
TW9 3AB

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

Royal Botanic Gardens
Wakehurst Place
Ardingly
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

www.gardenofwales.org.uk

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:-

 

www.carryongardening.co.uk

 

 

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  www.ngs.org.uk

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


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