April 2019 column

The month of the goddess ...


The celebration month..


The Anglo-Saxons called April the month of the goddess Eostre and there is also a Pagan festival of Eostre, in celebration of all new life, reawakening and renewal. Following the first full moon of the spring Equinox, Easter always falls on the first Sunday thereafter. As a gardener, I especially enjoy acelebrating the seasonal passage of the year. I take every opportunity to enjoy company, good food and as ever, cut from the garden to decorate the home with flowers and foliage of the month.

By now, after the clocks are spun forward, the garden is literally ‘springing’ to life (ahem), bursting into life with flower and leaf as we fast approach Easter.

There is still not what one would call abundance. In order to enjoy the best of April’s flowers, you would have to have put in the hard work the previous year, pre-sprouting Anemones and Ranunculus in October, Wallflowers were sown early in the previous summer and Tulips bulbs planted in November. April’s best is a carefully planned and orchestrated feast of scent, complicated colours and delicate petals which all reignites my love for growing seasonal flowers for arranging.

The days are lengthening, the light is brighter and somewhat feels ‘blue’ in hue to me. Frequent showers and warm spells are the perfect conditions for growth. Be on your guard as it can easily snow, and frosts are still common. It is possibly the most changeable month, one moment like summer, the next closer to winter!

In our polytunnels and greenhouses, we are now beginning to sow our half hardy annuals. These are frost tender plants that flower and set seed in just a couple of months. Our favourites include flowers such as Zinnias, Rudbeckia, Cosmos and Nicotiana. They truly are ephemeral, and you won’t find these in any florist. They are too soft stemmed and delicate for long transportation from large growers. They epitomise the summer garden and a jug of these on the kitchen table or a posy on the bedside table are a real luxury of the summer.


The added bonus..


The more you cut, the more flowers follow. Anyone can grow these, if you have a window sill simply sow the seeds into trays of seed compost. You can use plastic trays from salads and vegetables with a little soil and a clear lid on top. You’d be surprised what you can recycle, and they are often perfectly narrow. Then water and grow in a sunny window, turning regularly, so the seeds don’t bend one way towards the light and in 6-8 weeks they will be ready to plant out. You can either pot up into window boxes, a planter or straight into a well-prepared soil. Rake the soil so there aren’t any large lumps or stones, make a little hole and gently transfer the plant by holding onto the leaf, yes that’s right the leaf will be sturdier than the stem or root, and press the soil around the plant gently but firmly and water carefully with a fine rose on a can. As the plant begins to bud, feed with seaweed extract and cut flowers at least weekly and you’ll have flowers all summer on the table and outside!


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