10 simple ideas for a beautiful garden this spring
PUBLISHED: 15:57 07 April 2016 | UPDATED: 16:46 07 April 2016
From the best flowers to plant in spring to inspiring cottage garden style – we reveal 10 things to do this month in the garden to ensure an awesome outside space
With the scent of blossom in the air and views of pink magnolias against a blue sky backdrop, we can safely say that spring has sprung. In the new issue of Life at Outdoors we open the gates to some of the most delightful outside spaces in the country.
Whether you want to know ‘how can I attract bees to my garden?’, or ‘which flowers to plant in spring?’ you are sure to feel motivated as we share garden design ideas and tasks for April inspired by beautiful gardens in England.
Remove weeds, stake tall growing herbaceous perennials, deadhead winter and early spring flowers. Many shrubs can have a spring tidy-up, including winter jasmine, buddleja and smoke bush. Deadhead daffodils and tulips as they stop flowering, but leave the foliage to die back gradually.
A small change, such as introducing new containers, will create new vistas and features. Try growing fruit and vegetables in containers inside as well as outside — microgreens like pea shoots, radish tops and baby basil on windowsills, trained fruit trees in pots on the patio and cherry tomatoes in hanging baskets all work well. And don’t forget to take time to visit other gardens and horticultural shows as well, as these are always great sources of inspiration.
3. Go wild
Plant a wild flower meadow or section. Prepare the ground. Sow either an annual cornflower seed mix for a display in the first year or perennial mix that takes two years to flower. Mow perennial meadows six to eight weeks after sowing and then every few months in the first year to strengthen plants.
Sow crops such as beetroot, peas, broad beans, broccoli, sprouts, lettuce, rocket, cabbage, and chard. Plant out onion and shallot sets. Plant asparagus crowns in well-prepared beds. In early April plant out second early potatoes and late April main crop varieties. Feed strawberries, fruit trees and bushes.
Lawn fertiliser can be applied now; this can be combined with weed and moss killer if required.
Gardens are increasingly important as a home for bees and other pollinating insects, and it is easy to turn your own garden into a bee paradise. At its simplest, grow a range of bee-friendly flowers, rich in pollen and nectar, and aim to have flowers in bloom from spring until late summer. Different bee species like different flowers, so growing a variety of flowering plants will cater for as many as possible. A recent survey found the best flowers for bumblebees are meadow cranesbill, borage, green alkanet, sage, lavender, runner bean, marjoram, foxglove, raspberry, red campion and sedum.
There is a good selection suitable for woodland planting. For winter and early spring, bulbs and corms - such as snowdrops, aconites and anemone blanda - form a colourful carpet. Later in spring, azaleas and rhododendron come into their own. In summer, Philadelphus c. aureus is an excellent choice, brightening up the area with its golden foliage and with the added bonus of wonderful Rosmarinus officinalis Azalea is perfect for woodland planting scented flowers. Among good later shrubs are hydrangeas; one of the best for me is Hydrangea aspera Villosa Group, a medium-sized shrub with large heads of lilac-blue flowers.
Not sure which bulbs to plant? Gladioli are back in fashion and can be planted out from mid-April in a sunny, well drained spot. Try deep chocolate gladioli ‘Espresso’.
Early spring hellebores are now starting to set seed, so now is the time to remove dried flowers to prevent seedlings from popping up everywhere later in the year.
Start planting hardy flowers such as marigolds, cornflowers, nigella, candytufts and nasturtiums.