April at The Reigate Garden Centre Plant Department

Plant of the Month

Lavender
is nominated as the Plant of the Month for April by the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA). A great value garden plant: year round you can enjoy its aromatic, silver-grey foliage; in summer it produces an abundance of scented flowers in blues, purples, pinks or white; and is a good food plant for bees. Once established, it is also a tough, drought tolerant plant.
A popular garden plant whether in the border or grown in a container. Lavender is an easy herb to grow on its own or as a companion plant with roses or other summer-flowering bulbs and herbaceous perennials such as Echinacea, helianthus, phlox, monarda and rudbeckia...
 
“Lavender can add real value to a garden in many ways with its shades of blue flowers and silver leaved backdrop, its scent and the fact that it attracts all sorts of insects and butterflies. ‘Hidcote’ and ‘Munstead’ are two of the hardiest and most commonly planted cultivars of lavender. To successfully grow lavender, it needs to be planted in a warm, well drained soil with full sun. Chalky soils will enhance the lavenders fragrance. There is also the French lavender to choose from, Lavendula stoechas. This is attractive and unusual lavender which is best grown in a warm position, sheltered from the cold winds and frost. It can be container grown very successfully and it holds the RHS Award of Garden Merit as a worthy garden plant.”

In Your Garden

As the sun strengthens and more and more plants are flowering, it’s delightful to watch the garden coming back to life. Its now that you start to see the fruits of your earlier efforts.  
 
Preparing for a new season
April is a good time for a garden and patio spring-clean. Remove old plants from the borders or pots, clean your patio, remove algae from the slabs and get your pots ready for a new planting season. Plus all that work in the garden helps you keep fit – who needs to pay a gym subscription! Roll on summer!
 
Pond life
As the pond comes back to life here are some things to think about: 
 
• Turn the pump back on and examine your pond. 
• Which plants need pruning? 
• Which plants might you want to add? 
• Also think about feeding: there are special water plant food pellets which help the plants thrive. 
• If you do not have a pond in your garden yet, and you’ve got space, then now is the time to build one!
 
Walking amongst fruit trees
Spring weather and spring walks – definitely the time to go beyond the garden gate and visit your local gardens open to the public.  Seasonal shows of spring bulbs and fabulous blossoming trees are food for the body and mind.  So find out where your local National Trust property or park or open gardens are and enjoy!

Prune now

Grass
You can now mow the lawn every week. Mow an ornamental lawn to two centimetres and a play lawn to three centimetres. 
If your lawn is not enclosed by hard surfaces, the edges will grow irregularly. Restore the shape by edging the lawn neatly again.
 
Cutting and pruning
The more often you prune, the more the plants branch. 
This is your last chance to prune the roses. It should really have been done in March.
Also prune your false acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Umbraculifera’) or Indian bean tree (Catalpa bignonioides ‘Nana’).
 
Tidy pond plants
• Remove all dead plant residues. 
• Divide pond plants and get rampant varieties back under control. 
• Plant new plants in baskets with fresh pond soil. 
• Give the plants special water plant fertiliser granules by the roots in the soil.  

Plant now

Shrubs  
Evergreen shrubs are replanted later than the deciduous varieties because many evergreens are not fully winter-hardy. This is less important if they are pot-grown, but many evergreens are also sold ‘with rootball in sacking’. 
 
Shrubs which do not flower until after the longest day (21 June) can be pruned now. This includes varieties such as Buddleia davidii, Ceanothus and Hypericum. 
Shrubs which flower from buds which formed during the previous season should only be pruned when they have finished flowering.
 
Perennials 
Perennials may have pushed themselves up above the soil on their roots. They are standing on ‘islands’. Replant them to the right depth.
Remove all dead and withered plant residue from your plants. All the waste can go in the compost bin.
 
Plant and sow
Birches are famous for being difficult to (re)plant. This is the best time to do it.
You can now sow plenty of kitchen herbs (as well as vegetables like carrots).

Maintenance

Night frost
Beware of night frost! Protect plants which are sensitive and possibly already flowering with garden fleece if a night frost is forecast. 
 
Support for perennials 
It’s best to put in supports now for perennials which will grow tall.  
 
Sort out plant troughs
Lots of annuals are available to buy – although its best to wait until the days are warmer and longer as this is when they will start growing well.  In the meantime, now is a good time to get the pots and troughs ready for planting (rinse, ensure good drainage, put fresh potting soil in them).
 
Spring-clean 
If you have not done so yet, now is certainly the time to clean the garden, the patio and the garden furniture. 
It is still an excellent time for sowing a new lawn or restoring a lawn. Now is also ideal to aerate. The grass will recover very quickly. Rake the gravel thoroughly to stop the first weed growth. 
 
Tiles with algae
Flagstones and all sorts of other stepping stones and tiles can become green and slippery during the winter. Turn them over now to get rid of the problem. The green underside will then automatically be cleaned by creatures in the soil, so that you can repeat this trick every year. 
 
Pond
Turn on the pump in the pond and start the pond filter.