Your Garden in April

Your Garden in April

A Season Change with Warm Days and Cool Nights

This is a good month in which to do some clearing, pruning and shaping of the shrubs and trees in your garden. With the rains, good maintenance and feeding, the growth in the summer months has been vigorous, and your shrubs and trees have put out a lot of new branches and leaves that now will need to be carried through the winter months. 

With the cold temperatures and perhaps irregular watering during the up-coming months; we can lighten this load a little with some judicious pruning of old and weak wood, cut away longer branches to re-shape the plants and round off and shape the topiaries.

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Old blooms going to seed should be cleaned of these seed stalks unless you want to harvest the seed. Without the seed production the plants can rather store the energy used up to produce this seed in their roots for the following season. Clean away the last of the summer annuals and re-compost the beds for the winter varieties. Do remember not to prune away the branches of the late winter and spring flowering shrubs such as Weigelias, Brunfelsia, Spirea varieties, Camelias, Azaleas and Magnolias amongst others. The flower buds of these varieties may have already been set on the branches and will wait for the Spring warmth to bloom.

There is now a whole spectrum of winter colour available to keep the dreariness of winter away from your home. Start your planting now for an early show of colour. Many of the perennials will now die down completely for the winter season. Mark these clumps so as not to cause any damage to the dormant plants during winter plantings.

The ground temperature is now cooler and if you have not already done so, get your winter and spring bulbs set. Make sure of a loose, rich and well-drained soil. Plant the varieties at the correct depth and in the correct areas as per the planting instructions. Water regularly making sure that the bulbs do not dry out while growing; this will cause the blooms to abort.

The vegetable area should not be left fallow over this season. If you are not planning a winter harvest, put in peas, beans or lucerne and once these are grown to maturity dig them back into the soil as ‘green-manure’. These plants contain a lot of Nitrogen for the summer season varieties.

Harvest any herbs that can be dried or made into pesto from the herb garden. Cold tender varieties such as basil and peppers can now be changed for hardier winter varieties or potted and moved to a protected patio or kitchen windowsill.

We are nearing the colder winter season, but this is no time to wind down in the garden. Keep up the planting, the maintenance and the odd cleaning and clipping tasks. With regular autumn visits to the garden, winter can consist of a productive and colourful landscape.