April Showers Over?

April Showers Over?

Having started April with a continuation of the extremely wet weather that has plagued us throughout the year so far, it would seem that things are finally starting to improve, and there are at least periods of sun between the showers. That said, the ground still needs time to dry and there are many seasonal jobs that we have yet to catch up on!
The plants seem to be happy enough with current conditions though, and there are exceptional displays of rhododendron, azaleas, and late flowering magnolias all through the gardens. The bluebells are also peaking right now, and you shouldn’t miss the wonderful drifts to be found throughout the woodland areas around the estate. The swathes of blue camassia in the meadows below the castle are also in full bloom and look stunning. Two areas worth a visit are the Himalayan Valley where many rhododendrons are still in flower, along with masses of bluebells and wild garlic, and our Belgian Beds with their stunning azalea collection. We call this area the Belgian Beds as the original stock plants came from Belgium. We extended the original beds and added 5 new beds over the last few years, so they really are an impressive sight.
There have been a lot of ‘housekeeping’ jobs to do this month, including mulching beds, edging lawns, pruning, and tidying shrubs and when possible, a little bit of weed killing on the hard surfaces. I find if you get on top of things early, it makes it a lot easier later.
Jobs for the next few weeks: Plant indoor tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers. Start to tie in and pinch out growth on the grape vine, thin indoor peaches to ensure a good quality crop, sow herbs in six packs and then plant out when they reach a manageable size, this also works well for lettuce. Watch out for slug damage and check for greenfly both indoors and out. Now is the time to start thinking about staking herbaceous plants before they become too established, and it’s still not too late for lifting and dividing plants that you want to spread out or share with friends but do it soon and make sure you water them well.
I’m hoping we are finally rid of the frosty mornings, and we are in the process of moving out most of the tender plants that reside in the Tropical Borders, Jungle and Fern Garden to their summer homes. I’m holding back on the last few specimens just in case, but I expect to have them all out within the next week or two. It’s always nice to finally finish so that they can get settled in. I will, however, be keeping a sharp eye on the weather forecast and we will protect them with horticultural fleece if they are at risk.
I hope that we will see a bit more of the sun over the next few weeks, as it’s been a very poor start to the year, and I think we would all benefit from a little rise in temperatures. Come and see us soon. Adam