Bee best friends
Now is a great time to think about filling your
garden with pollinator-friendly plants
April is a lovely month in the garden, with spring bulbs looking fabulous and blossom on many of the trees.
Our gardens are springing back to life and new growth can be seen everywhere. Late winterflowering shrubs are finishing but their colour is quickly replaced by pretty blooms of ribes, magnolia, rhododendron and many others.
Spring is all about bright, vibrant colours, so now is a great time to freshen up borders. Before you get started, remove any weeds you can see, turning over the soil as you go. Any remaining perennials that need dividing should be sorted now, and you can also divide congested clumps of primroses once they’ve finished flowering.
If you’re lucky enough to have a collection of lovely, big hostas, you can divide these if they’re getting too big. As soon as you see those little spikes poking up, carefully dig up the whole plant and use an old bread knife to slice through the clump. As long as each piece has a visible shoot attached to a section of root then it will make a new plant. Remember to water generously.
Finish off by digging in a
5cm layer of compost or wellrotted manure and working in a general-purpose fertiliser too, to give your plants that added boost. You might want to feed any trees or hedges at the same time, lightly forking in a slow release fertiliser around the base.
Remove any remaining dead foliage on perennials and ornamental grasses to make way for new growth, and
prune Forsythias once they’ve finished flowering. Plants like honeysuckle and clematis are putting on growth so train the shoots to their supports and tie in.
If you’re adding new plants, consider those that attract bees and other beneficial insects. Now the weather is warmer, it’s a great idea to encourage these friends as they provide a natural control to unwanted pests. You can attract bees, butterflies, lacewings and ladybirds by planting nectar- and pollen-rich plants.
Plants like erysimum (wallflowers), scabiosa, lavandula and achillea are all ideal and have the added benefit of bringing beautiful colour, and often scent, to your garden. Have a look online or ask for advice in your garden centre. The benefits these creatures bring cannot be overstated.
If you’re looking for a show stopping plant for a container, consider the award-winning rhododendron ‘Nancy Evans’, with its gorgeous yellow flowers tinged orangey-pink at the edges. Compact and evergreen, with attractive foliage, it offers yearround interest.
ABOVE: Year round interest from Nancy Evans