April 24, 2009 In the Garden

• The autumn rains made a brief appearance and then disappeared again so we are indeed dry here. But this is Taranaki, not Australia, so you can be positive that the rains will return with a vengeance and sooner rather than later. Saturday is the likely date at time of writing.
• There is considerably less evaporation at this time of the year with cooler temperatures so you should not be worrying too much about the dry spell. Container plants will need watering every few days but you should not be needing to water the garden or lawn. But if you are planting any trees and shrubs, you need to ensure that the roots are completely saturated before planting. Hosing down after planting will not do the trick.
• If you have bought dry spring bulbs from the garden centre, get them planted as soon as you can. If they are looking very dehydrated, you can soak the bulbs overnight in water. You have missed the boat on lifting and dividing bulbs already in the ground. They will be on the move.
• Pruning and shaping should be in full swing in the ornamental garden although if you are working on winter or spring flowering shrubs, you do not want to be cutting all the flower buds off. Think in terms of thinning and shaping rather than hacking back and trimming all over. Do not leave clipping hedges any longer past this weekend.
• Rhubarb can be lifted, divided and replanted. Think of it as a very hungry perennial (commonly referred to as a gross feeder). Rhubarb responds well to rich soils, well dug over and fed with humus. It also wants plenty of moisture and full sun. The rule of thumb is that a third of the rhubarb patch should be renovated each year.
• Strawberries need replanting on a two year cycle. If you have some growing, it is likely that they will have put out runners. These are what you lift and cut off, replanting into fresh ground with well cultivated soils.
• From the irrepressible Pollyanna School of Positive Thought comes the unattributed quote: “Don’t grumble that roses have thorns, be thankful that thorns have roses.”