Notes from the garden – April

April has been a month of highs and lows, beautiful sunny warm days amongst the cherry blossom contrasted against retreating from the battering wind and rain. Here in North Wales April is the turning point of the year and going into May marks the end of the hard frosts. The garden has taken it in its stride, nature has an amazing ability to adapt to the ever changing conditions.

The month began with flurries of snow yet a few weeks later we were enjoying the spring sunshine sitting on the grass in the orchard. Last year we planted some large sacks of narcissus bulbs to create the beginnings of a mini spring meadow. They have turned an uninspiring patch of grass into the perfect place for lying amongst the delicate fragrance on a warm spring day. The mix included Geranium, Interim and was also meant to include Scilly White, but this had been mixed up with the equally beautiful Avalanche.

Colour is emerging in every corner of the garden bursting like fireworks and just as quickly fading away. Blossom is perhaps the epitome of the ephemeral nature of the flowering garden and one you must take the time to enjoy. There is nothing quite as spectacular as a cherry tree in full bloom but blink and you will miss the display.

A double white ornamental cherry
Prunus ‘Amanogowa’ clothed in pink blossom

Underneath the cherry, tulips poked their heads through the fresh growth of the lavender. The border created specially for the lavender from a backfill of rubble and gravel is also perfect for keeping the tulip bulbs drier over our cold wet winters.

Tulips, one of the stars of Spring garden
The pink blossom of Malus ‘Red Sentinel’, Pyrus Communis ‘Snowdon Queen’ and an unknown Prunus clothed in white flowers.

The tulips may now have peaked but the apples are bursting into flower. Each variety has subtly different shades of pink in the blossom, from the more peach coloured ‘Bardsey’ to the bright pink of the ‘Wisley’ crab apple

The deep pink blossom of the ‘Wisley’ crab apple


A basic framework to help shape the apple cordons

Another on going project in the garden is the creation of a “Belgian fence” from apple cordons. This is very much an experiment having only trained horizontal espaliers previously. I have used a basic framework of mild steel to form the diamond shaped structure up which to train the ‘V’ shaped cordons, the natural rusting of the metal helping to blend the structure into the surroundings . Normally, using the same variety would give the most impressive display of simultaneous blossoming, however I have used this to train different varieties in a space saving way.

Tulips, forget me not and Pulmonaria flowering underneath a ‘Beurre Hardy’ pear.

A regular walk through the orchard provides the perfect time for spotting canker, the bare tips of branches contrasting clearly against the new foliage. Thankfully the only canker spotted so far is on one of the pears.

Now the end of the month has arrived the blossom has started to fade and fall, a reminder to take time out to sit, relax and enjoy the garden. During the warmest day we sat our 5 month old son on a rug in the garden and let him feel the grass on his feet. His look of wonder at feeling this new sensation reminded me that we often take our surroundings for granted. Next time you go out in the garden take a closer look at the beautiful intricacies of the flowers, enjoy the blossom and feel the grass and regain that sense of wonder.


2 thoughts on “Notes from the garden – April

  1. Do the crabapples make nice fruit? We have a few fruiting trees at the farm, and flowering crabapples in town. The flowering crabapples make tiny burgundy crabapples that would probably make nice jelly if the birds did not take them all. (I would not want to deprive the birds of them anyway.)

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  2. We do tend to leave most of the fruit on the crabapples but the Wisley crab has large deep red apples and we have added them to juice and jelly. It’s an amazing looking tree with the deep pink blossom, purple tinged leaves and huge crab apples!

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