“I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose, I would always greet it in a garden”
– Ruth Stout
April sees spring spreading across the country with the differences in weather between the north and south diminishing. Known for its mix of sun and showers April can be a sneaky month, still throwing in the odd frost and even hail and snow. So, it’s a time to get busy in the garden but to still protect tender plants.
You should by now have received your copy of our latest catalogue, the 2019 Summer Garden Planner. It really is a bumper edition with four catalogues combined into one. Veg plants, fruit plants, flower plants and garden equipment are all included with a mix of exciting new additions and old trusted favourites. So, if you are interesting to read about the first autumn cropping broad bean or to choose from perennial plants, some of which have never before been available in the UK, then order your free catalogue now.
If the weather allows you to do nothing else this month try and complete the following gardening jobs:
- Sow sweet peas direct where they are to flower and plant out any that you sowed in the autumn, having first hardened them off.
- Deadhead your spring flowering bulbs and keep them weed free. Allow the leaves to die down naturally.
- Herbs can be sown in pots on the windowsill to give you fresh ingredients throughout the summer.
- Feed any citrus plants with Citrus Tree Summer Feed. They can also be pruned now, but only if really needed.
- Plants kept in containers will appreciate having the top few centimetres of soil replaced with fresh compost mixed with controlled release fertiliser. Top with a mulch to aid moisture retention.
- Sow cut-n-come again salad crops, a little and often and you won’t need to buy supermarket salad leaves in plastic bags all summer.
- Now is the time to start hardening off vegetable plants and others that you have been protecting from late frosts. Put them outside for a few hours each day before finally leaving out overnight and planting.
- Houseplants will benefit from increased watering. In just a couple of months you’ll be able to put them outside for their summer holiday.
- Summer flowering bulbs and dahlias can now be planted. Keep them watered and protect young shoots from rampaging slugs.
- Now is a good time to repair an existing lawn or to sow a new one. Just make sure the sowing area is firm and level.
Ponderings on Spring
Spring is the favourite season of many, as it is the time for rebirth, green shoots and a thousand and one other clichés. The word “spring” has several meanings including to suddenly jump upwards or forwards, a natural source of water, a fitment in a chair or bed and of course it is also the season between winter and summer.
So, what is so special about spring?
- Increased temperatures meaning that plants and grass begin to grow and that we can all start to unravel ourselves from scarves, gloves and winter coats.
- Increased light levels giving gardeners more time to spend pottering and sowing your Suttons seeds.
- The longer days mean that our garden hens will increase their laying of those delicious orange-yoked eggs.
- Daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, tulips, primroses and other spring flowers will be the first real colour that many of us have seen in our gardens since the previous autumn. The garden has suddenly come back to life.
- Not only do spring flowers look bright and beautiful many are also scented sending wafts of perfume into the air on warm spring days
- With so many spring flowers about it is inexpensive to have cut flowers in the house again
- Spring cleaning may not be special to everyone, but sparkling windows are better to see the garden through.
- Easter is special to many and who doesn’t enjoy hot cross buns and chocolate eggs?
- New born lambs springing on straight legs and chasing about the fields in gangs.
- And last but by no means least, spring brings us the knowledge that summer will soon be knocking on the door!
Whether you are completely new to bee keeping or a seasoned expert we can now supply all that you need to keep your bees well. If you haven’t yet received a copy of our new catalogue, then please request one or browse the brand-new National Bee Supplies website.
Perhaps you don’t want to keep bees yourself but care about then nonetheless and want to encourage them to visit and to pollinate your garden? Our range of nectar rich plants, including lavenders, are perfect, having been specially chosen as the bees’ top choice.
- The toughest lavender ever – hardy to -15°C
- A tidy plant that won’t turn “leggy”
- Ideal for both sun and shade
- Blooms earlier and for longer than other varieties
- Compact and bushy
- Great for containers and borders or for using as hedging
- Our best seller and deservedly so with its deep violet flowers
- Compact and intensely aromatic
- The perfect English lavender
- Drought tolerant with abundant flowering
- A French variety with frosted pink wings on each bloom
- Perfect for a sunny patio pot or well-drained border
Grafted Vegetable Plants
We’ve seen a huge and ever-growing demand for grafted vegetables, as our customers discover the fantastic benefits – from growth to taste! Previously used in commercial growing, Suttons have developed the grafted plant for the home gardener and our customers have had extraordinary results. In fact, our trials show that gardeners can expect up to 75% more crop!
Why not join thousands of other gardeners this year and try grafted vegetables for yourself?
Some Enchanted Evening
This month is all about preparing our gardens for a wonderful summer display. A display to delight all our senses, not just sight. To me, a summer garden is not complete without a selection of scented plants. All placed strategically, near paths, doorways and patios so their perfume can be enjoyed to the full.
So, why do some flowers smell? In the main flowers smell to attract pollinators. The scent tells the pollinators that the plant is in bloom with the flowers at the right stage for a visit. A sort of perfumed “Coo-ee, I’m over here!”
Some plants such as roses and honeysuckle offer up their scent during the heat of the day whilst others, such as the herbs mint and rosemary, release their fragrance only when the leaves have been disturbed. And then there are those plants that hold onto their scent during the day, only releasing it when the sun has gone, and the cooler evening has arrived.
So, why do some plants only release their scent after dark? The reason is to attract night-time pollinators such as moths and beetles. The scent simply acts as a guide for the insects – they follow it directly to the plant in search of nectar. For this same reason, the flowers tend to be pale, often white, as this makes them easier for the pollinating insects to see in the dark.
Ideally chose a sheltered spot. You want the fragrance to sit gently on the night-air rather than simply being blown away. But also remember to give the day-time growing conditions that the plant needs!
Just one word of caution. These plants are doing all they can to attract moths so if you don’t like moths, you’d better not plant them!
- Nicotiana Evening Fragrance – A mixture of flesh pink, rose, red, lilac, mauve, purple and white flowers. Wonderfully fragrant, a mix of pink, red, lilac, purple and white trumpet-like flowers
- Night-scented Stock – Delicate stems of small lilac flowers.
- Hesperis – Commonly known as “sweet rocket” with clusters of small white flowers.
- Evening Primrose – Large single yellow flowers.
- Night Phlox – A profusion of small delicate flowers above lance-shaped leaves
- Globe Artichoke – Architectural by day and scented by night
- Honeysuckle – Many (but not all) honeysuckles are night-scented so choose carefully
- Verbena Bonariensis – delicately scented both night and day
Successful Seed Sowing with Christine Loader
Last month we looked at how to successfully germinate your packets of Suttons seeds in seed trays. By now they will be growing nicely and be ready for pricking out.
Left to continue growing in trays your seedlings will soon become over-crowded, weak and spindly. So, as soon as they are large enough to handle, they need transplanting into larger containers, a process known as “pricking out”.
First, fill your larger containers (6cm pots or trays divided into individual compartments are ideal) with a good quality potting compost. Gently firm the surface of the compost as this will clear any air pockets. Then using a dibber make 4 to 5cm holes in the compost, ready for the seedlings.
Now loosen your seedlings by gently knocking their tray on a hard surface – table or potting bench. Gently hold each seedling by the leaves (never the stem as this can cause lethal damage) and using a widger or similar tool carefully lift it, keeping as much soil on the roots as possible. Now pop the seedling into the hole created in the new container, ensuring all the roots are covered and then gently firm it in. When you’ve transplanted all your seedlings, or at least as many as you want, give them a drink using a fine hose. Pop a clear plastic cover over your growing seedlings and keep them in the shade for a few days, whilst they establish. You can then start to prepare them for the great outdoors by keeping them in a light but cool position such as an unheated greenhouse or room.
Real Sunflower Lamps
Our team of horti experts travel the globe all year round and today, have made an exciting discovery in Germany which we’re thrilled to be sharing with the gardening nation here in the UK. It’s the finding of varieties of flowers that are so phosphorescent they give sufficient light to read by.
Under proper conditions the flowers of the clematis glow like stars, while sunflowers, if correctly nurtured, make it quite possible to read a newspaper by their unaided light.
We can’t say too much at the moment, but it could be a combination of bioluminescent marine bacteria with a plant genus breeding programme to create varieties so phosphorescent that they appear to glow.
Click here to order your Sunflower Lamps today.
Plant of the Month
To welcome in Spring, April’s Plants of the Month give you a great excuse to get out into the garden and sunshine. For a limited period, we’re offering a range of fantastic 5-litre potted shrubs, with prices starting from just £12.99 each. That’s a 5-litre plant for the price of a 3-litre plant, which means your shrubs will be more mature when reaching your door. Stocks are limited so be quick as when they’re gone, they’re gone!
Click here to view our selection and order yours while stocks last.