End of Month View – April 2011

Allium, Euphorbia and japanese anemone

Whow, the weather this April has been crazy.  It has been as warm as we would expect in the Summer and we have had no rain in West Sussex for weeks on end.   Both my water butts are empty, actually that is not quite true, we must have had a short shower last night, because the slim butt by my back door was about 2/3rds full this morning.  This was great, but not enough, we need a good few days of solid rain to replenish the water levels and refill our water butts.

Alan Titchmarsh says that he doesn’t water his established perennials, encouraging them to dig deep with their roots and uses a mulch to seal in the moisture.   I can understand that to a point, if you don’t give the soil a really good soaking, the roots will stay just below the surface where the soil is wet and this can lead to weak plants.   However, it is very disconcerting to see treasured plants wilting in the heat.  My water is metered and I am very conscious, when filling my watering can from the tap, that I am paying for every drop of water I am pouring on my plants.  Also plants do not like tap water, especially ours as it is so hard.   We must have some rain soon, the water reservoirs are too low for this time of the year and if this continues we will be heading towards a water shortage.

North facing flower bed April 2011
The North facing border is lush and filling out nicely

My Aquilegia are in bloom a little early,however, when I look back to last year, the photos I took were mid-May.  They have self-seeded all over the garden, but still have come out in different colours and its exciting to watch which ones will stay true from year to year.  I have given up naming them, they are all just Aquilegia to me.   The greenfly are having a field day though and I am having to spray them with soapy water, not that it is making much difference.

My raised bed is flourishing and I have already started cutting the baby spinach leaves for salads.  The first radishes are nearly ready to pull.

My potato bag has now had two layers of chitted Duke of Yorks and all I have to do is wait for them to flower and I should be rewarded with fresh potatoes from the garden.  Exciting because I have never grown my own potatoes before.

The pak choi is growing well.  This is another vegetable  I have never grown before.  I think I have not thinned them out enough, from my recollection of seeing pak choi in the shops it is quite bulky, probably to the thickness of  celery.   I read that they don’t like their roots disturbed but I had sown far too many seeds and it was difficult to thin them out in situ, so I pulled them all up and replanted the little plants.  I watched them with trepidation for a few days as they went very floppy and I thought I was going to have to go back to square one.  They have picked up  fortunately and are looking very healthy.  I still zip the cover to the raised bed closed every night, the temperature really drops and there is always the fear of a sudden grown frost, despite the hot days.

Everything shot up in the heat and the sun, but now, because of the lack of rain it is all slowing down a bit. I do hope we don’t have a really cold May which will set everything back.

The strawberry plant is beginning to flower and my beautiful pink tissue paper like poppy is just in bud.  Again it is early and I am having a little panic as I can only see one bud.  This poppy is now about 5 year old and generally throws up six to eight flowers.  I hope that it does the same again this year.

Finally, my Gerbera is appearing again this year.   Several years ago I went to the Hampton Court Show on the last Sunday.  It is always, in my opinion, the best day to go as all the plants are sold off at about 4:00pm and some great bargains are to be had.  I bought this Gerbera because it produces the brightest pink flower you can imagine and was a good sized large plant for only £5.   Looking at it, I think I need to re-pot it because it is growing in one corner only, so that is my next job.  My lovely white Agapanthus is in the background.

So there we are, my EMOV for April.   I am looking forward to EMOV May to show photos of plants in full flower.   Thank you Helen from Patient Gardener for starting off this meme.