FRAZZLED — that’s my mental state in April, when the garden demands constant attention. But spring is too beautiful not to keep a few hours for savoring. Between planting, pruning, mulching and weeding jobs, let’s take time to smell the burgeoning hyacinths, and to appreciate the rebirth of our gardens. Then, con spirito, we can dive into the following (mostly urgent) April chores:
Mulch. Consider how much you’ll need, then order double that amount. This way you will have plenty on hand for new beds and woodland paths. And remember, you needn’t pay for mulch. I recently received two truck loads of composted wood chips, which cost me absolutely nothing.
Weeds. Every weed pulled now is a thousand you won’t have to confront later. Really.
Roses. Uncover and prune shrubs. Prune David Austin varieties back by about half, and then apply a high-phosphorous fertilizer beneath the drip-line of each. To conserve moisture and reduce weeds, mulch rose beds heavily with either shredded leaves or composted wood chips. Here are the roses I grow at A Garden for the House for June color and perfume.
Boxwood. Hire a professional to shear and shape these enduring evergreens. Use trimmings to make new plants.
Vegetables. To enjoy abundant harvests before hot weather arrives, sow cool-season peas, lettuce, and spinach early this month. Sow other vegetables in make-shift greenhouses according to this schedule.
Annuals. Get the varieties and colors you want by sowing zinnias, marigolds, cosmos and etc. early this month in the same kind of greenhouses mentioned for vegetables.
Perennial Beds. To avoid damaging emerging shoots, clean up beds by hand. Then apply a balanced, organic fertilizer over the old mulch.
Peony. Apply a trowel-full of wood ashes and one of manure or compost (triple these amounts for huge plants). Also, set ringed supports around plants before heavy growth makes the job impossible.
Chrysanthemums. Lift and discard woody centers. Then plant rooted sections 18 inches apart.
Delphinium. Feed established plants with a balanced, organic formula.
Iris. Remove and destroy old leaves. Also, remove any surrounding debris in which the eggs of the dreaded iris borer may lie.
Winter-Sown Perennials. When large enough to handle, transplant seedlings to permanent quarters mid-month.
Pansies, Violas. Plant these nursery-grown beauties in your window-boxes or patio pots. They will give you early — and instant — spring color.
Ponds & Fountains. Clean out leaves, but watch that you are not cleaning out frogs, too. These are emerging from their muddy hibernation now.
Finally, don’t keep so busy with work that you miss out on the miracle of Spring!
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