April is a wonderful time in the garden. Here in Zone 5, the last of our snow has just finished melting and the songbirds are starting to sing. After spending so much time indoors during this particularly cold (and lengthy) winter, it’s been lovely to spend some time each day outside observing the garden and doing a little bit of April gardening!
April Gardening in Zone 5
Outdoors, the snow in our yard is finally gone! There were few small piles left for the the last few weeks (mainly on the north side of hedges and fences) but now they’re gone. Last year, some local gardeners had their tomatoes outside by mid-April! How things can vary from year to year…
Indoors, I’ve got my whole seed-starting setup in full swing. This year I’m growing mainly tomatoes and flowers, with a few ornamental pumpkins just for fun. I was able to get almost all of my seeds at the local seed swap, and it’s been fun to grow locally-sourced seeds. It’s also nice not to have too many different things going with the baby on the way.
Outdoors, however, there is lots going on! I love observing how the garden comes to life in April after the cold winter season.
Still Raking Leaves
Now that most of the snow is gone, we can rake up the remaining fall leaves in the yard to make more leaf compost. The fall in our area was very warm, but it was followed by a sudden cold snap. Some of our trees lost their leaves after the snow started falling, making it impossible to rake up all the leaves. Fortunately we had a dry spell last week so the leaves were nice and dry and easy to rake up. We’ll have more leaf compost in no time!
We were careful when we were raking because there are some volunteer yellow crocuses in our yard this year. What a lovely surprise!
One of my favourite parts of spring is watching the herbaceous perennial plants bursting up through the soil. Peonies are my favourite due to their bright pink “eyes”, which appear before many other plants in our garden.
I’ve got three patches of peonies now, all “rescued” from my parents’ new house. We put in many metres of hedges at their house last year, and some of the peonies planted by the previous owner were in the way. I dug them up and put them in our garden. I was unsure if they survived, but it looks like we definitely have a few winners!
My Lovely New Hellebores
Now for some exciting news…I finally got my hellebores! I’ve been looking for these for several years and finally found some for sale in our local area. They are completely possible to order online, but I hadn’t gotten around to it (plus, they are a bit pricey to order that way). My mom and I happened across a lovely display of Ivory Prince and Merlin hellebores, and we each picked up 3 plants.
We had hard frosts for a few nights after I planted out my hellebores. They were in full bloom during the hard frost, but they handled it perfectly. All the blooms remain on the plants. They didn’t appear to have experienced any frost damage at all…pretty darn cool!
Hellebores are the only flowering plants other than crocus that I’ve seen around town, so I’m pretty pleased with them. I think I might become a hellebore fanatic if I’m not careful.
Magnolia blossoms are another favourite early flower here. Magnolias really are the show-stopping feature of April gardening. We have mainly large pink saucer and lily magnolia and smaller white star magnolia in our area.
The buds that overwintered on our magnolia are just starting to open. Last year our magnolias were in full bloom during the second week of April! This year things are a few weeks behind, so we are still waiting for the lovely blooms. I did notice some blossoms starting to open in the towns south of where we live, so hopefully it’s not long now.
Planting Perennials on the Hugelkultur Bed
Another fun April gardening activity was planting the hugelkultur bed we built last year with perennials. We did a hedge of yew, plus some astilbe and hosta. The yews were a great deal because they were small and spindly, and we also scored on the astilbe and hosta plants as they were purchased in bulk as bare root plants rather than as individual potted plants. I pruned the yew after giving them a chance to settle in, so they’re shorter now than as pictured above.
We also planted some foxglove flower seeds on the top of the bed. I collected the seeds in the fall from my husband’s family property, so I’m hoping they remind him of their cabin when they bloom. Who knows how well they will germinate given the time of planting, but I figured it was worth a shot!
The Garlic Is Sprouting
In the kitchen garden…the garlic is sprouting! Sprouting garlic is one of my favourite parts of April gardening. I plant my garlic in September each fall and then patiently wait for it to sprout in the spring.
This garlic crop appears to be doing well in it’s new spot in the kitchen garden. I like to move the garlic around to new soil, so it’s always interesting to see how it does in it’s new little microclimate. Hopefully we grow a good crop of garlic this year!
Natural Easter Decor
This year I collected some moss to create an easy centrepiece with some naturally-dyed easter eggs. I also collected some forsythia branches from our overgrown shrubbery both to keep it under control and also to have some lovely blooms indoors. All of this decor was free…which is my favourite 🙂
Thanks for stopping by for this April gardening update 🙂
What’s happening in your garden in April? Is this year similar or different to previous spring seasons? Share your stories and observations about April gardening in the comments section below!
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