What to do in the Garden in April and May
The spring bulbs are mostly over and are giving way to the tulips and bluebells. Remember to deadhead your daffodils to allow them to concentrate on feeding the bulb for next year's blooms. Do not cut back the leaves as all the goodness in them will be taken up by the bulb as they die back.
Your roses should now be putting on some good growth. If you haven't already started your feeding regime you should do so now! We would recommend alternating your feeds between Uncle Toms Rose Tonic and Plant Magic. Both of which come in concentrate and can be mixed with water. Mix your solution into a spray bottle and apply to the leaves and stems of your rose bushes by way of a fine mist. The plant will be able to take up the feed directly. Plant Magic can be used on all of your garden plants in both a spray and watered directly into the ground.
Now is also a good time to start looking forwards to the summer months. If you have recently planted some roses why not think about giving them some company. Some great candidates would be Nepeta, Salvia, Geums and Erigeron karvinskianus. All of these plants will provide differing degrees of ground cover and height. They are also hardy perennials. Just be careful when selecting your salvias as not all varieties are fully hardy. Nepeta and Salvia are particularly beneficial and would be considered true companion plants. They are both said to repel aphids and Nepeta is also reputed to repel deer and rabbits!
Some other great plants to accompany roses, and to give some height towards the back of the border, would be Thalictrum, Stipa Gigantea, Verbena bonariensis, Delphinium, and Leucanthemum. These plants all give an airy effect except Leucanthemum. Which can form dense clumps and is quite useful for providing a more solid backdrop.
If you prefer to mix your roses amongst your perennials you might try planting them with Peonies, Achillea and Lavender. This would give you a soft cloud effect if planted close together as they all form rounded shrubs/clumps.
Geranium Anne Folkard and Geranium Psilostemon work well when grown through roses as their delicate flowers peep through and can provide colour when perhaps the bush is having a break from blooming.
As the weather warms up don’t forget to give your roses plenty of water! Especially if they are newly planted or kept in pots. Ground grown roses will need regular watering with a deep watering once a week. To water deeply you must soak the ground. A light watering will barely penetrate the soil. Put your hose to the ground and leave it running on low pressure for 15-30 minutes. This will allow the water to soak down into the ground and draw the roots downwards. The deeper the roots can be encouraged to grow the more drought tolerant they will become in subsequent years. Pot grown roses must be watered every other day with a can full of water and every day during the hot summer days.
If you have a glass house you can now bring your Dahlias out of storage and start them into growth. Be careful not to bring them out of the greenhouse until the risk of frost has past.
You can begin to harden off your sweet peas in preparation for planting out and in the meantime you can prepare their supports. Here at the nursery we like to use any interesting sticks and branches that we removed from our trees during the winter. We form them into a tripod and grow them as a stand-alone plant in amongst the borders. You could also train them up a wall or fence using netting or by leaning sticks/canes against the wall/fence. Deadhead them regularly when they begin to flower to encourage more blooms.