Gardening coach: April 2016

PUBLISHED: 17:59 30 March 2016 | UPDATED: 17:59 30 March 2016

Agapanthus flower (better known as African Lily)

Agapanthus flower (better known as African Lily)


Judy Shardlow’s horticultural advice for the month

It may feel as though it has rained all winter but summer may well bring equally challenging dry weather and extreme heat. Choosing new garden plants in the spring is one of life’s simple pleasures and if you choose wisely now, you’ll be relaxing in a deckchair on hot summer days rather than running around the garden with a hosepipe.

Mediterranean plants are tough customers and their resilience in extreme drought and heat puts them at the top of the list when trying to adapt the garden to climate change. Lavender, santolina (Cotton lavender), cistus (Rock rose), salvia (sage), perovskia (Russian sage), alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle), thyme, euphorbia (Spurge) and agapanthus (African lily) cope superbly with heat and drought. They also flower extensively so they are a great source of nectar for pollinators. New compact cultivars such as the beautiful lavender ‘Thumbelina Leigh’ and pretty evergreen agapanthus ‘Peter Pan’ also fit comfortably into a smaller garden. 
Sun loving Mediterranean plants need well drained soil in a sunny location, Given our increasingly wet winters, planting them on a 50:50 mix of garden soil and horticultural grit will help to get them through the wet winter months.

Five things to do in the garden this month

Find your fizz

Try zingy green new cultivar santolina ‘Lemon Fizz’ – perfect with compact purple saliva nemorosa ‘Sensation Rose’.

Plant Purple beans

Sow French bean ‘Purple Cascade’ in individual modules of seed compost indoors or in a greenhouse. They’ll be ready for planting out at the end of May.

Get glads in

Gladioli are back in fashion and corms can be planted out from mid-April in a sunny, well drained spot. Try deep chocolate gladioli ‘Espresso’.

Deadhead hellebores

Early spring hellebore flowers 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.

Tiptoe through the bluebells

The county has lots of places to enjoy stunning bluebell displays. Find a bluebell wood near you on the Hertfordshire Natural History Society website

Judy Shardlow is an RHS award-winning garden designer and coach

01438 833858

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