Click here to print this page

Planning Retirement Online

Gardener's Diary

April 2012


An introduction from Rosemary Martin...


Previously in The Gardener's Diary...

March 2012

February 2012

January 2012



The Gardener's Diary


RosemaryI have been gardening now as a hobby for about forty 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..


Kauffmann tulipsSpring is here at last!  I do love this island of ours with it`s diversity of seasons. I know many people emigrate to other countries for a warmer climate, and there are times I do envy them, but I enjoy our different seasons, and appreciate what each one has to offer. Even winter has it`s very own charm..

Although this winter seemed shorter and milder than those of previous years, we do seem to have had our fair share of wind that has reeked havoc with some gardens. But plants and shrubs are very resilient and with a little pruning and tidying up they will soon look as good as new and be putting on new growth.

The more optimistic of you will, by now, have trays of seedlings dotted around the house or greenhouse. It is very important to prick them out as soon as possible to avoid them getting too leggy and overcrowded in their first seed tray. I am very lazy when it comes to doing this chore if the weather is a bit on the chilly side, but on a warm sunny day it is a pleasurable task.. Don`t be caught out by night frosts at this time of year as they can wipe out all your hard work in a matter of minutes. If you have tender plants in the greenhouse make sure there is heat at night, or failing that, cover plants with horticultural fleece or even old newspapers, anything to keep the frost off..

The imminent hosepipe bans for many areas of the UK mean we will have to be innovative with the use of water for our gardens -   there is some previous advice from me here..


Jobs for April



saladFruit and vegetable garden

The Fruit and vegetable garden section for April can be found 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.


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

CleomePlant 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 Cleomes. 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)


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..

spade 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. 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. I take them out of the netting though, to prevent birds' feet getting caught up in it.


    Keep in touch with everything happening in Laterlife Today!

    Subscribe to our free monthly email newsletters for the latest articles, offers and events. You can unsubscribe at any time should you want to.


Bookmark This Share on Facebook Receive more like this

Tell us your gardening  experiences

Want to comment on this article or ask other laterlife visitors a question?

Then visit the comment section of the Later Lifestyle Network, click on the 'Discussion Tab' (you can't see this until you are logged in) and create a new topic or add your views to an existing one.  

feeling Good

Feeling Good

The above article is part of the features section of called laterlife interest. laterlife interest contains a variety of articles of interest for visitors to written by a number of experienced and new journalists.

It includes both one off articles and also associated regular columns of a more specialist nature such as Healthwise, Gardener's Diary, our regular IT question and answer section called YoucandoIT and there's also 'It could be you' by Maggi Stamp laterlife's counsellor on human relationships. 

Looking to the future

Looking to the future

Tell us about what you would like to see here on in the future or any changes you would like to see. Just email

Latest articles

To view the latest articles click on laterlife interest index. To search for articles about a certain topic, use the site search feature at the top right of the page.
Back to Laterlife Today

Visit our Pre-retirement Courses section here on laterlife or our dedicated Retirement Courses site


Advertise on