April and the extended day makes the prospect of gardening more appealing. It has been a long and soggy journey and the ground is still wet, but somehow the extra light and the arrival of leaf lifts us and there is a desire to get on. The sudden lime green flash in hedgerows, almost overnight was like the flicking of a switch. Those with gardening in their veins have prepared and behind the scenes nurseries have plants ready to go. We need to get going and there is plenty to do. I will finish setting out potatoes in the coming days and know that onion sets and shallots will catch up quickly. There are Brassica plants about, Cabbage, Cauliflower and Summer sprouting can all be put out. As indeed can lettuce. If you can find a bit of light ground, then salad roots and carrots can all be run in from seed. If there isn’t a drier space anywhere than try growing your roots in deep pots. Radish, spring onion, beetroot and carrots can all perform well in pots and with a bit of planning you can create succession by sowing more in a fortnight. You can bring your vegetables right up to the back door.
If the mood takes you can be sowing annuals now and some straight into the ground. Old fashioned cottage garden annuals like Candytuft, Nigella and cornflowers are a doddle. Scratch the ground with a rake and sprinkle the seed. Then just press the soil back. I am going to try broadcasting Cosmos in the same way. It is also time to be thinking of summer bulbs and tubers. I have a space prepared for Dahlias and the tubers can go into the ground towards the middle of the month. They are easy and prolific, though they will need some slug protection through the early weeks. Once you have them up they are a joy, delivering a bunch of cheer every day throughout the summer, up to the first frost. Every year I try to pop in one of the less used summer bulbs, last year setting out Tigridia (which were stunning), this year it’s the turn of Sparaxis. Known as the Harlequin flower, it shoots up quickly and delivers a palette of strong colours. Best of all it seems to cope with the wet.
And finally, the green jungle that is your lawn, bays for your attention.