April 4, 2008 Weekly Garden Guide

Rain glorious rain last Sunday and Monday was a welcome relief for gardeners as well as farmers.

While we have not yet had enough to bring moisture levels back to normal, it does at least herald the start of the new gardening cycle. It should be safe to sow lawns. You can be starting to divide perennials and clumping plants (but make sure you water them in well) and thinking about autumn planting of shrubs and trees.

  • If you are planning to divide or plant bluebells, do not delay. They will be moving soon. Our large daffodils are already in growth but the dwarf daffs are still able to be divided and moved.
  • If you have untidy looking hedges, now is the time to give them a trim in preparation for winter if you are in a fairly frost free or light frost area. Trimming them encourages fresh growth and you don’t want to delay or that growth will be very soft and tender just when Jack Frost pays his first visit. Leave the radical hair cut for springtime when the plants are in full growth. This is more a light maintenance trim.
  • The Curious Gardener’s Almanac quotes an old saying:

    if a shrub flowers before the middle of summer, prune it in the autumn; if afterwards, then wait till spring. There are exceptions to this but generally it holds true.

    We are still digesting this piece of advice. Certainly you will be trimming off flower buds on rhododendrons and camellias at least, but it may be appropriate for radical rejuvenation where you are willing to sacrifice the flowering for the next season. So if you are an inveterate hacker, you could take this piece of advice and head out to prune everything (except flowering cherries where you have missed the boat) which flowered before the end of January.

  • Keen vegetable gardeners will be preparing the ground in advance for later crops such as onions. Keep tomatoes sprayed with copper to extend their life span into autumn. Citrus trees will also benefit from a clean up copper and oil spray to combat botrytis and scabbing on the fruit. Botrytis will take the leaves off and rot the fruit.

The final thought for this week (also from the above mentioned almanac) is that worms are roughly 1000 times stronger than humans, relative to their size. We did not know that and it is likely that you did not either.