April’s must-do garden jobs
April’s list of essential gardening jobs come from Jess Evans, who heads up the team at the small but perfectly formed National Trust’s Tintinhull Garden just outside Yeovil. There’s a beautiful 17th century hamstone manor house (closed to the public except for two small rooms, although you can rent the whole house as a holiday let – swoon) but it’s the five formal courtyard gardens and kitchen garden created by Phyllis Reiss in the 1930s that people come to see.
Jess is a rising star in the gardening world, after training at Kew, she was Monty Don’s gardener on Gardener’s World (while he was making pretty with a trowel, she was doing all the actual gardening) and she was the 2015 Chartered Institute of Horticulture Young Horticulturalist of the Year.
Here are the jobs on her to do list:
Weed, weed, weed
If you only do one thing this month: weed. With increasing hours of daylight and warmer temperatures, the weeds are really going to race from now on. They say one year’s seeds means seven year’s weeds: so get rid of weeds before they flower. Hoe off on a sunny day and rake, or pull by hand.
Lift and separate
It’s your last chance to lift and divide clumps of snowdrops and you can do your daffs, too. If you don’t do this, the bulbs will start dividing and you’ll end up very dense clumps of flowers next year. Wait until the leaves have started to die back, then use a trowel or hand fork to lift the plants and bulbs out of the soil, gently pull apart into separate handfuls, loosening the bulbs to make a flatter bunch, and replant.
Mulch stops annual weeds, improves the soil and encourages worm activity (which also improves the soil). Use a garden, mushroom or green waste compost rather than wood chip, unless the border is well established as lignin in wood can use up the nitrogen in the soil needed by your plants. Lay mulch 2-4 inches thick while beds are wet.
Love your lawn
After wet weather use a digging fork to create holes in the soil (spiking) and a wire rake across the surface of the lawn (scarifying) to get some air in, to break up moss and the ‘thatch’ of old grass. Pull weeds growing there by hand or use a weedkiller that targets broad leaf plants but don’t use too close to borders. If you’ve got bare areas in your lawn, give them a light rake and then over seed.
It’s time for annuals
Time to get some annuals in – cosmos, zinnias, dahlias – whatever you fancy. Either sew seeds, plant out seedlings from the greenhouse or use plugs from your local garden centre. Take care to plant plugs using fabric mesh below the soil level; if the mesh dries out so will the roots of the plant.
Jess’s top tip: 20 minutes a day in the garden is better than one hour a week
Tintinhull House & Garden Farm St, Tintinhull, Yeovil BA22 8PZ. Tel 01935 823289 nationaltrust.org.uk/tintinhull-garden