Scents in April: There may be the occasional warm day – it is possible. Warmth brings out the first scented flowers of the year, which are so welcome and so enjoyable, even if you have to get down on hands and knees in the wet grass for a sniff. A touch of warmth also brings out the bees for a much needed shot of nectar to refuel after the winter. The only scented tulip that I know of is called ‘Ballerina’, it is rather a zingy orange colour so needs to be positioned carefully away from the rash of pink flowers that are much in evidence this time of year. The poet’s naricissus, white with a tiny orange and yellow centre, planted with the ‘Ballerina’ in a sunny place – mmm – drink in the scent.
Sow to Work: Sow outdoors: potatoes, broad beans, lettuce, spinach, peas, salad onions and Tuscan black kale. Cover with fleece or cloches to keep off birds and the worst of the weather.
Prune now: Cut back buddleja as far down to the ground as you can. Mature shrubs such as hydrangea and fuchsia can be thinned and reinvigorated by taking some of the oldest shoots right back to the base. Cut down the old growth of grasses such as Miscanthus.
Divide and multiply: Large clumps of some late summer flowering perennials like asters, japanese anemones and sedums can be dug up and divided to make new plants.
Constant Weeding: as the soil warms, the weeds will germinate. Now is the time to keep ahead of them, the bigger they grow the harder work it is to get rid. As always, mulch after weeding.
Veg out: Spring brings overwintering vegetables into new growth. Broccoli should be ready for harvest, along with spinach and chard. Pull them out to clear the ground as soon as they go to seed.
Spring cleaning: The sun shows how dirty and mouldy the greenhouse glass is. Time for a wash and brush up before planting out tomato seedlings.
Hold back: There is still a likelihood of frost so don’t put out any tender plants yet.