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April Fool! Garden fun in the spring silly season

Don't be a fool this April! Garden fun for this spring month

Spot the fool... is it you? Think you can plant out your summer bedding this April? You would be a fool there is always a chance of frost and even snow and your plants will all expire.

Warning... you would be a fool to plant out your summer bedding in April. Antics, however, are all part of the silly season  so Perfect Plants will join in the fun and frivolity with its own version of foolery.   But first why on earth is April Fools' Day celebrated with silliness?

April is a chance for the joker to play his card. It seems that the theories are mainly conjecture. There are varying stories about the origin of April Fools' Day. The first day of April was once celebrated as New Year's Day but when Pope Gregory XIII brought in a new calendar (called the Gregorian calendar), it changed New Year's Day to January 1.  It is said that many people refused to adopt the new date and they therefore continued to celebrate on April 1. Other people made fun of those celebrating a new year that didn't exist and trickery followed.

A chance to play some tricks. Foolishness is sometimes fun! There are other explanations. But who knows whether they are correct? After all, it's a day for Fools and not everything you read or see is the truth. We do know that the Romans celebrated a spring festival called Hilaria; the Hindu calendar celebrates a renewal festival called Holi and the Jewish calendar marks the time of year with Purim. Whatever the roots, April 1 is the one day of the year when you might see spaghetti growing on trees; hear about socks that suck fat from a body; see cute pictures of a tiny new pet called the Tasmanian Mock Walrus which eats cockroaches; hear about a new machine that can control the weather; and you might be tempted to audition for the voice of the speaking clock.

 Cockroaches. Great food for a new pet.

This looks like an interesting new pet. Perfect Plants is celebrating April with its pleasure generator known as Flower Power (of course). This involves just a bit of foolery and of course, the jokes are all about gardens. But the biggest pleasure, as always, is the actual gardening itself.

Gardening: you don't need to be a Fool to enjoy it!   Let's start with a few foolish definitions: Seed catalogues: These are works of fantasy and they are filled with magic dust and promise. Weed: An intelligent plant that has mastered every survival technique but hasn't learnt how to grow in rows. Seasons: Salt, pepper, mustard, vinegar. Spade: A device for generating back pain. Tulips: The things you kiss with. Knee:  A highly efficient device that finds rocks and hard things in the garden. Celery: Payment for growing vegetables.  

Garden tools: great scope for an armoury of jokes. And then there are jokes of course. All garden related here during the period of Flower Power. Q: How do you make friends with a squirrel? A: Climb a tree and act like a nut. Q: What happens when you cross a garish lava lamp with a famous Yorkshire gardening personality? A: You get Alan Kitschmarsh. Q: What do you get if you cross a black and white dog with a rose? A: A collie-flower. Q: What's the best way to learn about gardening? A: By trowel and error. Q: What's brown and runs around a garden? A: A fence.

Heard the joke about the squirrel and the nut? Perhaps you are one.   There's no doubt that the serious business of gardening is no joke. But it is immensely enjoyable and it definitely generates its own sort of energy. Here's some non-jokey tips for jobs you can enjoy in April: What can you direct your efforts towards this month?

  • Turn your attention to the lawn. Patch it up, repair where necessary, sow grass seed and re-shape the edges. Mow your lawns, setting the blade high. If there's just one task that makes a huge difference to the appearance of the garden, it's improving the lawn edges.
  • Next: get on top of the weeds now and you will rein in the gallop before they get away from you.
  • Feed your roses and shrubs to help them get off to a good start.
  • Prune trees such as fig, also any winter-stemmed shrubs such as Salix and Cornus (if you haven't trimmed these already). Other shrubs that you grow for their stem colour should also be cut back including Cotinus (smoke bush) and Sambucus (elder).
  • Gently trim back lavender and similar sub-shrubs so they can commence growing from a nice mounded shape.
  • Tie in your climbers. If you have climbing roses, tie shoots to a horizontal plane so that flowers appear along the length of the shoots rather than at the tip.
  • Mulch your borders while you can still see what you are doing.
  • Plant hedging and shrubs while there is moisture in the soil.
  • Put plant supports for perennials in place now before the new growth starts flopping.
  • Protect fruit bushes and trees with netting if you want to keep the birds away from the developing fruit buds.
  • Sow vegetable seed under cover this month. Broad beans, lettuces, spinach, carrots, leeks and chard can all be started now.
  • Plant potatoes after they have been chitted. Plant first and second earlies first, then main crop by the middle or end of the month.
  • Plant garlic and onion sets.
Climbing roses. You don't want the flowers to appear on high tips, out of your line of vision.
By Perfect Plants


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