Last updated on March 31st, 2012
APRIL IS THE MONTH when the garden seems to require us to move in 10 directions at once. But spring is too beautiful not to keep a few hours for savoring. Between planting, pruning, feeding and weeding jobs, let’s stop to smell the hyacinths and daffodils, and to appreciate the garden’s grand rebirth. Then, con-spirito, we can dive into the following list of 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 probably don’t have to pay for mulch. I recently received three truck loads of composted wood chips, which cost me absolutely nothing.
Boxwood. Late this month or early next, hire a professional to shear and shape these enduring evergreens. I use the trimmings to make new plants.
Roses. Uncover and prune shrubs. I prune my 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 some of the better roses I grow for form and fragrance.
Vegetables. To enjoy abundant harvests before hot weather arrives, sow cool-season peas, lettuce, and spinach early this month. Sow other vegetables in milk-jug 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 (these provide potash) 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. If your peony refuses to bloom, it is either planted too deeply or set in a too-shady location.
Chrysanthemums. Lift and divide. Then plant the rooted divisions 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. As you can see in the photo above, my own iris bed is in desperate need of attention.
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.
Finally, don’t keep so busy with work that you miss out on the miracle of Spring!
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