Pondering a wet April
So now it’s wet. Very wet. And before it was cold. Very cold. It’s really left me pondering about how the garden will go in the coming months and what I should focus on now. My diaries from recent Aprils are full of sun and verdant explosions, and seeing combinations of plants you wouldn’t normally expect because the garden was so far advanced.
This year you can almost hear the silence as you go through the garden, the feeling that nothing has quite happened yet. But the shoots are there, the buds are getting fat and there is hope for the months ahead. I think the biggest challenge will be holding back a bit on some chores that would normally be done now.
I feel I’m relying on well drained pots I filled with bulbs at the end of autumn which should withstand the wet and provide me with some much needed colour. I have protected these with a layer of fleece when the weather has threatened extreme cold. I will certainly be upping the importance of doing pots like these for my planning for future years.
When spring stalls, these may make all the difference.
I also managed to get a new border planted up towards the end of March, in that very brief interlude between the -10 temperatures and the deluges of rain. So I can be smug about that.
But I’m glad I have kept a few additional plants from each batch back in the greenhouse as I worry some of the smaller plants may not survive a waterlogging. Those with better developed roots will be fine, but the younger plants which I grew from seed in the autumn are at risk that their young, almost transparent fleshy roots will rot away in the wet. It will be good to have a few in reserve in case I need to fill in gaps next month.
I am popping on to the border to start my first bits of staking, but I am cautious of treading on a waterlogged bed any more than is strictly necessary.
Mowing and lawn care should be starting now. Again the rain will hamper this. It will be better to wait until the end of the month than start running a heavy mower, or a scarifier over the ground in such wet conditions. The lawn is unlikely to recover quickly from the damage this will do, whereas it won’t mind waiting a few weeks for treatment and re-seeding.
I haven’t started cutting back my more tender plants (like the Penstemon) yet, as there are still some cold nights ahead. However I have gone ahead with pruning the trees we use for foliage – Sambucus nigra f. Porphyrophylla (black elder) and Cotinus coggygria (smoke bush). The Sambucus can pretty much be pollarded to where last year’s growth began. It is a vigourous plant which responds well to hard pruning and without this will sprout foliage above the desired level. I have also just chopped back my coloured stemmed shrubs – Cornus alba and Cornus sericea (red and gold stemmed dogwoods). These can be done any time between about January and April, but it is good to leave the coloured stems on show for as long as possible, especially when there is so little else to grab your attention with this late start to spring.
I’m also holding off with planting my summer bulbs (e.g. Gladiolus) until the wet and the cold subsides.
I can feel everything concertina-ing to a tense rush at the end of the month.
At least the weeds aren’t too bad….. yet.