I began my April entries in my Garden Journal 2018 with the words, “April this year is a month to play “catch up” as the poor weather in the first quarter of the year has held us up so!” But as will be revealed during my entries this month things didn’t play into our hands as far as the weather was concerns. It rather dashed our hopes!
I continued, We had two weeks at home to garden before we went away for a Spring holiday. There was very little sign of the new season, a few daffodils and other Spring bulbs flowered but little fresh growth on perennials. Strangely, our Witch Hazels had a quick second flush of flowers.
Coppicing and pollarding feature strongly when we turn over to the next page, two of my favourite garden activities.
We usually aim to coppice and pollard our shrubs grown for their colourful stems, Cornus and Salix, before the end of March. The weather prevented us doing so this year so we tackled the job in early April. It is a job I love because I like to picture the results of my actions.
Some pruned stems are selected as cuttings to produce new plants to sell or as replacements.
Hazel rods become bean poles and the brash become pea sticks to be used on our allotment. We tidied up around the hazel stools and gave the footpath a mow over.
On the page opposite to the notes about coppicing and pollarding, I moved on to look at re-instating some of our grass paths, writing, A major job for this April was to repair and re-seed our grass paths. This is a result of having so many visitors when we open our garden for the National Garden Scheme.
We used my big vintage Bulldog fork to spike deeply into the lawn surface and top dressed the lawn with compost. We brushed this in and added fresh grass seed into bare patches. To stop our garden birds eating too many seeds we spread prunings over the surface.
Over onto the next page we can see that I shared a quote from Dan Pearson’s Natural Selection, then looked at more of this month’s jobs.
Dan Pearson in his book Natural Selection wrote early in April, April is spring at its best, with the intensity of green being notched up daily until it is as vibrant as it ever will be. It is the time of some of my favourite plants and an opportunity to get to know better those that flourish in this brief window.
He moves on to speak of three of his favourite spring flowers namely Magnolias, Snakeshead Fritillaries and Tulips. We do not grow Magnolias here at our Avocet garden as we feel it difficult to justify growing a plant that performs for such a small period and sits static and dull for the rest of the year. We enjoy those growing in our neighbours’ gardens instead. Snakeshead Fritillaries and Tulips however we grow in profusion.
For the first few weeks of April this year there was no sign of the “intensity of green” mentioned above. We left to go away for the third of April, leaving our patch still firmly in the grip of Winter.
Before we left however we had jobs to do such as featured in the previous pages and several others which I feature next.
Our key job of this month was to add a single step to the slope into our Japanese Garden. The gravel tended to move beneath our feet as we stepped down the slope. A half-sized “railway sleeper” did the job nicely.
We topped up the log edging to the wildlife pool, topped up the bark paths and spent a day cleaning and sharpening all our secateurs and loppers.
Turning over to the next double page spread I wrote about the birds in our garden and then mentioned a sudden sign of spring.
I wrote, When we work in the garden we do so to a soundtrack of bird song as birds mark their new season’s territories. The loudest songbirds of all are members of the Thrush family, the Blackbirds and Song Thrushes and the more diminutive Robins. All the Titmice and Finches join in calling busily from songposts.
We enjoy watching all of our garden birds collecting nest materials and taking it off to well-hidden places. Throughout the UK people have nicknames for our most common birds. I did some research and came up with these.
Robin – Redbreast, Bob Robin
Song Thrush – Mavis, Throstle
Blackbird – Merle, Woofell, Colley, or Black Uzzle
House Sparrow – Spadger, Spuggie, Spaggie
Wren – Stumpy, Toddy, Sumpit, Old Lady’s Hen
Dunnock – Creepie, Shufflewing, Scrubber
Greenfinch – Green Olf, Greeney, Green Lennart
Great Tit – Black Capped Lolly, Black Headed Bob
Blue Tit – Tom Tit, Blue Cap, Pickcheese, Blue Bonnett
The most exciting bird spotted this month was an early Cuckoo who sat on top of a bush. This is a bird often heard but rarely seen, so it was a memorable sighting.
The third week of the month saw Spring arrive very late and very quickly and dramatically after a few days of record setting high temperatures. Suddenly our spring flowering bulbs burst into life and leaf buds opened to reveal the brightest of greens, bronzes and pinks.
Tulips take over every part of our garden splashing their brightness among fresh greens of perennials growth.
A cold easterly wind blew back into our patch as the month came to an end. It has been a destructive force in our garden this Spring, burning leaves of even the toughest of shrubs. Every variety of Mahonia has been hit hard but do seem to be fighting back, dropping the dead browned leaves as new buds thrust from the branches.
So here I finish my report on my April pages in my garden journal. I will return in May when the weather may be more kind to us.