At last we’re starting to see and hear the signs of spring. Now the clocks have changed it seems that spring has finally sprung. Verges are golden with daffodils and the white blossom of the blackthorn is sprinkled along the hedgerow. Some early flowering cherries are starting to show their delicate blossom and the early morning songs of blackbirds, robins and song thrushes are there to greet us at daybreak. It’s enough to make you want to rise early and seize the day.

So why not make the most of the new light and warmth in the garden to think about how you want your garden to develop over the coming months.

Stay on top of weeds.

Now is a great time to get the upper hand and prevent perennial weeds from getting established. Running a hoe over a bed will kill most weed seedlings. To be most effective, choose a dry morning with a light wind so that any seedlings you cut up will dry out on the surface of the soil. If you hoe on a damp day or in the evening, there is a chance that the weeds will re-root in the moist soil.

While the soil is damp, it’s a good time to pull up annual weeds before they set seed. Use a hand or border fork for persistent weeds like bindweed or couch grass and make sure you dig out as much root as possible. You’ll have to keep coming back to these unwanted visitors, but catching them early while they are still tender makes the job considerably easier.

Prepare your boundaries

Your fences and walls may have looked rather bare during the winter so before the new growth of your climbers appear and perennials start to come through, now is a good time to make sure they are up to the job. A couple of dry, warmer days in April is an ideal time to treat or paint your fence or if the winter has taken its toll and posts have rotted, then think about replacing it before your beds are full of tender shoots.

If you want a more contemporary look for a timber fence, then why not think about cedar? Laid in horizontal slats it brings a modern feel to a garden and is a great backdrop to a deep border. 

Start sowing seeds

If you don’t have the space indoors for seed trays and propagators, then now is the time to start sowing seed outdoors. So long as the soil is warm and moist, seeds can be sown and will germinate quickly. Vegetables such as calabrese, kohlrabi, cauliflower, peas, carrot, radish and Swiss chard can all be sown in April, but always refer to the seed packet as it does vary with plant type.

You can also scatter seeds of ornamental plants in free drifts to achieve a natural-looking distribution, although for vegetables and cut flowers, it is better to sow in clearly defined drills to make weeding and thinning easier later.

Later in the month you can begin to sow under glass other crops such as runner beans, pumpkins and squashes that can then be planted out after the last frost in May.

Spring sowing is suitable for annuals (plants which are sown, flower and die in one year) that tolerate light frosts. Some old favourites that the RHS recommends to sow at this time of year are:

Calendula officinalis (pot marigold): Slightly aromatic leaves and single or double daisy-like flowers in shades of orange or yellow flowers from summer to autumn. These are great to plant around your veg as they attract the aphids away from your crops.

Chrysanthemum carinatum (annual chrysanthemum): Tricoloured daisy flowers.

Cosmos bipinnatus: Tall, bushy plants with large daisy-like flowers in whites and pinks.

Gypsophila elegans (baby’s breath): Clusters of numerous tiny white or pink flowers on slender stalks in summer.

Helianthus annuus (sunflower): Classically yellow with a black centre but also in lemon, reds and browns.

For more information on sowing hardy annuals visit https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=718.

So dust off those winter cobwebs, make the most of the Easter break and get out in the garden.

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