Updated: Apr 2, 2020
The birds are continuing as normal. They are oblivious to the chaos that is going on in the world around us. I sit in my garden office with one ear trained to the news, longing for a distraction but unable to tune out.
To take my mind off all that is going on around me, I will seek out solace in my garden. I appreciate now more than ever how lucky I am to have a garden. My garden is my happy place and the thought of being holed up inside for a few weeks is made better by the fact that I can while the time away outside – weeding, planting, pruning, simply being. Whether you have a few house plants to look after, some salad plants and herbs on a windowsill or a container garden on your balcony or courtyard, tending to plants can help to increase health and well being (and there have been tests done to prove this. Read more about it on the RHS website here).
As we move into April, new growth is accelerated and the list of gardening tasks increases. I have a relaxed attitude to my own garden and gardening in general and simply do what I can with the time I have. I follow organic and permaculture principles which allow me to be a little more laid back. I let nature do the work. In following these principles I have created a space that follows a more naturalistic style – preferring to create a functional (yet still beautiful) space that is tuned in to wildlife as opposed to a garden that would stylishly stand out on the avenues of the Chelsea Flower Show (although there is certainly a time and a place for a Chelsea Flower Show type garden).
No matter what your preferred style of gardening, the main garden tasks will largely remain the same. I have listed my top 10 gardening tasks for April below:
Keep weeding. There will be lots of new growth over the coming weeks and now is a good time to keep on top of weeds, pulling out anything that has the potential to take over or spread too quickly.
Sow hardy annual seed outdoors in readiness to fill any gaps in your borders with some instant colour. When choosing what annuals to sow, always consider their benefit to pollinating insects and birds. What can you plant that will encourage lady birds and hover flies?
Plant seed potatoes once you have chitted them. If you don’t have space in your garden or only have a small courtyard, it is possible to plant potatoes in bins, buckets or sacks. Monty Don explains how in this useful video.
In the vegetable garden, sow cucumber, courgette, squash and sweet corn indoors (or in a heated green house). Coriander and beetroot can be sown undercover. Broad beans, lettuce, spinach, peas, early brassicas, parsley and carrots can all be sown outdoors.
Divide and replant large clumps of hardy herbs and perennials such as lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), chives (Allium schoenoprasum), asters (Symphyotrichum) and day lilies (Hemerocallis).
Keep bird feeders well stocked with seeds and fat balls.
Prune hydrangeas (if you haven't already).
Plant summer bulbs such as dahlias, gladiola, lilies and nerine.
Add new plants to ponds and divide established pond plants that are outgrowing their baskets.
Prune evergreen shrubs once they have flowered (such as Potentilla, Mahonia and Rosemary) and cut back any newly sprouted suckers from around the base of trees and shrubs.
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