Helen waxes lyrical!

The April sun gathers warmth and our gardens are relishing the opportunity to grow as quickly as possible. New shoots are striving upwards and early blossoms tilt towards the light. All this activity swells, crescendos, your garden bursts open with life….and thus generates a ‘to do’ list as long as your favourite spade.
So, off we go again……

Spring bulbs
This week I’ve been making a mental note of how well, or not, my Daffodils have flowered. Some have come up blind with no flowers at all. This may happen for several reasons; lack of nutrition, bulbs overcrowding or planted too shallow. Easily remedied. Feed with potash and let the leaves die back, place a garden cane to remind yourself where they are, dig them up in Autumn and replant at the correct depth of two and a half times the height of the bulb, ensuring more than three inches between each one. Fingers crossed for next year.

Summer bulbs
Now is the right time to plant bulbs, corms and tubers which will grow and flower this Summer. Try Dahlias, Gladioli, Begonias or Lillies in rich, well drained soil. Easily available from online nurseries or check to see if your local garden centre is delivering orders; plant as per instructions. Watch out for new growth being damaged by slugs and snails!

Unlike slugs, snails are dormant throughout Autumn and Winter, so expect to find more evidence of these hungry gastropods as the weather warms up. Both species are abundant in every garden, so we do learn to tolerate a certain amount of damage. However, sometimes enough is enough! Fortunately, there are a number of ways to limit the destruction without resorting to harsh chemicals.
1. Night patrol. My modus operandi and yes, I do realise that shuffling around my garden in the dark clutching a torch and a bucket may be certifiable.
2. Encouraging natural predators like frogs, birds and hedgehogs. Easy enough to leave a quiet corner of the garden over to nature.
3. Nematodes. Biological control which is watered onto the soil in Spring and causes slugs to become infected by nematode bacteria and die. Doesn’t affect other wildlife.
4. Rake over borders and expose pests to hungry birds.
5. Barriers and traps. Egg shells, coffee grounds, cans of beer, copper bands….everyone has a favourite, and the RHS are currently carrying out research into all these methods.

One of my favourite things in the garden this week has been the gentle routine of sowing outdoor seeds; Calendula, peas, tomatoes and summer salad crops, all thankfully protected from the frost which stole in early last Tuesday morning. I’ve also been keeping an eye on the Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum) which grows at a fantastic rate every Springtime. It might be the busiest horticultural month of the year, but there is always a quiet moment to stand back and watch Nature at her finest.