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APRIL IN THE GARDEN The growing season is under way now and hopefully we will be blessed with better weather. Many people say that gardening begins at Easter. I guess that because Easter was so bad most gardens are behind where they should be. Many opportunities will have been missed because you will have bi-passed early spring and all the things we talked about last month which should have been done by now. We are moving on now to jobs associated with warmer weather. It’s time for tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers etc. in your greenhouse. If you have somewhere to keep them for a few weeks, you can hang up your summer hanging baskets, allowing them to settle and grow which means they will be so much stronger when you finally hang them out. Sweet peas can be planted out now; they are so much hardier than they look. Your vegetable plants will be available to plant out and second early and main crop potatoes should be planted this month. The lawns should be progressing well now and grass cutting should be a regular job, but now you can feed the lawn to make it stronger for the summer. Out in the borders much is beginning to happen, all the deciduous shrubs will be coming into leaf, making all the plants which have looked dead overwinter, alive and full of colour. Many shrubs will be flowering too, as spring is the main season for flowering shrubs. Skimmia, Viburnum, Weigela, Deutzia, Kerria, to name but a few. Herbaceous will all be showing new growth too, mounds of fresh green foliage giving promise of a riot of colour for the summer. Some early species will already be in flower. Many of these are shade loving or woodland plants flowering before the tree canopy becomes too dense. April is also one of the best months for alpines, many species flower before it gets too warm as this is what they are used to in their native habitat. Early Clematis such as Alpina, Macropetala and Montana species are flowering now, these are among the hardiest and most vigorous types so they are easy to grow and give a good cover. So much is changing week by week that it can be hard to keep up, but it is fascinating to watch the season’s progress and to see how plants and wildlife adapt to the changing season. Make the most of your garden at this wonderful time of year. Phil Dunnett