Click here to print this page

Planning Retirement Online

Gardener's Diary                April


Succession Planting for Adventurous Gardeners








Gardener's Diary is a regular feature of run by Rosemary Martin. 


An introduction from Rosemary...     

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..



Sixtieth edition -  April 2006   

Wasn't March cold? At least when the weather does finally warm up, there will be a burst of colour everywhere! The daffodils and other spring flowers are poised in bud, just waiting for a warm day before they open up.. Neighbours of ours cover their camellia bush with fleece each time a frost is expected, but unless the buds are actually open there is no need to do this, in fact it could rot the flowers through lack of air circulation...

Garden centres are suffering with low visitor numbers too, due to the cold weather, so there could be some bargains to be had later on. Last week I bought a selection of plug plants from the supermarket (much cheaper than the garden centres) because I just don't see the point of growing my own seeds any more. Having said that, I can't resist growing Zinnias from seed and outdoor cherry tomatoes to dot amongst the flowers..

Have you noticed that garden centres seem to sell everything these days, with plants being low on their agenda? Franchises are big business in garden centres: it makes sense to rent out some of your floor space to other companies, which will attract more customers without the effort and expense.

Jobs for the garden in April


House plants

Houseplants: Indoor Plants Anyone Can Grow

Continue checking your houseplants and repot any that seem to have stopped growing or just don't look as healthy as they did when you bought them.. Take cuttings this month of any houseplants that you want to try and propagate..

I'm building up quite a collection of orchids, some of which have been flowering since November, and will repot them this month in some special orchid compost... Read up first on a particular houseplant's cultivation requirements before you purchase it - because it might not grow well in your house.

Bedding Plants

Now is a good time to start sowing seeds for a great display of summer bedding plants. I used to start sowing seeds in January. It wasn`t worth it at all, as the seedlings always became very leggy due to lack of daylight and damped off in the cold and moist air. Nowadays I sow seeds in April and grow healthy young plants that romp away and are far superior to my earlier efforts. 

RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers (RHS S.)Make sure unused potting compost from last year is discarded onto borders or the compost heap and your fresh supply is at room temperature before sowing seeds. Seed trays and pots should be washed and sowing instructions on the seed packets carefully followed, as all seeds have different cultural requirements. After sowing seeds and watering them if required, place the trays in clear polythene bags to keep them warm and humid. I find that freezer bags are ideal and can be labelled too. I`m sometimes a little impatient and put seed trays in the warmth of the airing cupboard to hurry them along, but a conservatory, greenhouse or warm window ledge will do as well. Keep an eye on the weather and cover the seed trays with newspaper or horticultural fleece if a frost is expected. Once the seeds have reached manageable size, and before they get root bound or a tangled mass, prick them out into bigger pots or plugs, taking care not to damage the roots. Keep young plants watered, warm and fed, much like children, and if treated with care will quickly grow strong and healthy.



The weather was so awful in March that I don't suppose anyone managed to get their lawn scarified, but April will be a good month for this very important job, followed by a spring feed and weed treatment, which will set your lawn up for the summer..  

April is still a good month for repairing hollows and bumps in lawns: With a sharp spade, cut out a square of turf round the area to be repaired, build the hollow up with soil or remove the surplus, then replace the turf, making sure it is well trodden in and watered.. 

 Native Trees and Shrubs for Your Garden


Many shrubs will benefit from a trim this month to keep them tidy and encourage new growth. Trim winter-flowering jasmine and tie in long shoots to their supports. Hard prune tall old stems on fast-growing shrubs that flower on new wood, buddleja in particular benefit from this type of pruning. Many dogwoods, valued for their colourful winter stems, should also be cut back hard now, right down to about 12in from the ground. Many other shrubs respond well to hard pruning, which will then produce fresh young growth and often brighter and larger leaves




Greenhouse Gardener's Companion: Growing Food & Flowers in Your Greenhouse or SunspaceDon't waste the space in your greenhouse.. Use it for storing cuttings and growing on flower and vegetable seedlings. I overwintered some beautiful pelargoniums (geraniums) and have just taken dozens of cuttings from them, which will stay in the greenhouse. Some overwintered fuschias are starting to bud and they're also safe in the greenhouse.

Plant begonia tubers in pots in the greenhouse. Always ensure the slightly concave surface of the begonia tuber is uppermost, and just cover with compost. Pot on as plants grow, feeding them weekly.

Keep some gentle heat on in the greenhouse during the nights as frosts will still quickly kill your new seedlings. Or you can cover with bubble wrap, newspapers or hirticultural fleece.



March. Continue to sow successional crops such as salads and carrots. You don`t need a vegetable garden or allotment to enjoy home grown vegetables as they can be grown in amongst the flowers. In fact it helps to keep the aphids and carrot fly away if you plant vegetables amongst flowers such as marigolds, and I think it looks really nice to see vegetables and salad stuff dotted around the borders. Later on you could put a small wigwam of runner beans in, or even grow them in grow bags if you only have a patio  area. April  I can thoroughly recommend Sutton's seeds 'Gardener's Delight' Cherry tomatoes.. They are outdoor tomatoes, very prolific and much, much tastier than the larger type!


Garden Ponds  

The Pond Specialist: The Essential Guide to Designing, Building, Improving and Maintaining Ponds and Water Features (Specialist S.)If the weather is suitable for you to do a pond 'spring clean' then take care not to disturb any mating frogs or toads.  If they haven`t yet paired off you can put them in a bucket and cover them until it`s time to put them back in the pond. The same goes for the fish. We put ours in a plastic plastering bath where they swim around quite happily until being returned to their pond. If you are re-lining a concrete pond take care to use the correct sealant afterwards, and give it ample time to dry.  It`s still a little early in the year for buying aquatic plants. 



Take care when you are pruning in the garden that you don't disturb any nesting birds.. Continue putting out food for the birds, but not bread or other food as it will attract rats to your neighbourhood! This can be a distressing time of year when some fledgling birds get separated from their parents. Whilst it is admirable to try to save them, they very rarely survive because we can't feed them the constant supply of bugs that their parents do.. Another problem this time of year is birds flying into windows and killing themselves.. I now paint marks on the greenhouse windows with a solution of coolglass that seems to work because last year we had no deaths.



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..











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 for 2006, see here

April RHS flower show, see below:-

RHS Spring Flower Show, Cardiff

15 - 17 April 2006

Set in Bute Park, against the magnificent backdrop of Cardiff Castle, some of the UK’s finest nurseries will come together to fill the showground with a spectacle of flowers


Keep the e-mails with your gardening problems coming Please tell me which country you live in as knowing the climate can help me solve your problem. Your current email address is necessary as my replies are occasionally returned to me as undeliverable..

There was a technical hitch with emails recently and if anyone has not had a reply from me regarding their gardening query, perhaps they would like to re-send them..

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...



Keep the e-mails with your gardening problems coming

Have a look at previous editions of Gardener`s Diary



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)


Back to laterlife today

Site map and site search


Advertise on

LaterLife Travel Insurance in Association with Avanti