What to do
This is a nervewracking time for plants. Hail, frost, temperatures in the 70s, gales – anything can happen in April. Plants such as gunnera and magnolia show their anguish all too visibly, if caught by a severe frost. What can you do? Sadly, nothing.
If you still have bare-rooted trees to plant, soak them in a bucket for an hour before putting them in the ground. Plants in pots can soak in a tray overnight. This will keep them ticking over for a short while until you remember to water them again.
Continue to plant vegetables when conditions seem tolerable. 'Catriona' is a fine old Scottish potato that makes flattish cream tubers with smudgy purple eyes. 'Chantenay Red Cored 2' (Suttons £1.35) is a reliable F1 variety of stump-rooted carrot. 'Resistafly' (Suttons £2.35), a new British-bred, sweet-tasting variety which has better-than-normal resistance to carrot fly.
When daffodil clumps become congested, the bulbs tend to flower less freely. Mark any particularly barren clumps now with a cane to remind you to lift, separate and replant the bulbs some time between July and September – before the new season's growth starts again.
A generous handful of bonemeal or some proprietary bulb booster added now will help to bulk up the bulbs and encourage them to perform well next season.
Hyacinths that have finished flowering indoors can be planted outside with a handful of bonemeal to build them up. They sometimes take a season to recover but naturalise well.
Weeds are growing fast. Keep on top of bittercress and groundsel. Both are in flower already. Both are dedicated procreators.
What to buy
Seed companies run trial grounds to check quality and monitor new varieties but last year, seed merchant Mr Fothergill also ran an informal survey of visiting insects. Bumblebees seemed particularly to like flowers such as agastache, cosmos, dahlia, eryngium, helichrysum, echium, foxglove, lavender, lupin, marigold, poppy, rudbeckia, salvia, scabious, sunflower and zinnia. All are available online at mr-fothergills.co.ukReuse content