Spring has finally arrived in my corner of the UK – after quite a mild winter the cold temperatures of March combined with constant rainfall have made spring feel rather late in coming. The views of the greenhouse below were taken in early April last year – this year I am still waiting for the white narcissi to flower and keeping my fingers crossed that they will do so in time for next weeks wedding!
April is another very busy month in the greenhouse, with lots of seeds to sow and young plants to look after, so lets open the door and see what is going on this month.
Inside the greenhouse I am enjoying the very last of the spring bulbs planted last autumn, which have been satisfying my craving for flowers since January.
The bowls of blue and white hyacinths have been flowering all month, pumping their heavy scent into the greenhouse air. The flowers have started to fade now and pot by pot I am slowly planting them out into the garden where they will bloom again next year.
Last month I showed you the green stems and buds of these tulips, which have now flowered and been moved out of the greenhouse. I told you that I had forgotten which variety I had planted, but I knew as soon as I saw the delicate pink that these are tulip Angelique, which will not be flowering in the garden until much later this month.
I have had three big vases of tulips from these bulbs, including the one that I showed you for ‘In A Vase On Monday‘. The flowers do not last long in the warmth of the greenhouse, so need to be cut quickly.
Below you can see one of the latest batch of Paperwhites to flower – I had hoped to have these flowering just in time for next weeks wedding, but with the rising temperatures in the greenhouse they have flowered in less than 4 weeks from when I planted the bulbs. I still have one final batch developing, so keep your fingers crossed for me that they flower next week!
The orlya planted in the greenhouse bed before Christmas continues to produce these lovely flowers. There are only a few, so I have brought in a couple more plants in from the coldframe, including some ammi majus, in the hopes of having some early filler flowers for tulip bouquets in late April and May.
The Winter Sunshine sweet peas are romping away! They are nearing three feet in height and growing every day. Perhaps I will have some flowers to show you in next months review.
The new kids on the block are the dahlias that I am now planting up in black plastic pots to bring into growth for summer flowers in the Cutting Garden. I have also planted anemones and ranunculus in the greenhouse bed between the tulips, which I hope will be flowering later in May. In the photos below you can see the many bags of dahlias waiting to be potted up throughout this month and a few pots that I have already done.
Now that most of the potted spring bulbs have been planted outside there is more space on the staging for new seedlings. The annuals and most of the half hardy annuals for the Cutting Garden have been sown and are in the process of being pricked out. This month I will sow sunflowers and zinnias, as well as additional trays of anything that I am feeling short of. For the vegetable garden I will get all my beans going and later in the month I will sow courgettes, sweetcorn and squash. The photo below was taken from outside to show you just how full the staging is!
Also this month I need to review my supplies of hardy annual seeds and biennials. In May I will sow rows of hardy annuals such as cornflowers, ammi majus, nigella and larkspur direct in the Cutting Garden to ensure I have flowers throughout the summer. Hardy annuals run to seed very quickly as the temperatures rise, so the first crop that was sown inside in February has usually stopped producing by mid summer. This second crop will take over in August and flower until the first frost.
Biennials need sowing in June to give them enough time to grow into sturdy plants that can survive the winter in the garden. They will then flower in late spring/early summer next year. The biennials I like to grow are foxgloves, honesty, sweet rocket, sweet williams and wallflowers. As I am running short of space in the garden by June, I tend to sow these seeds in trays in the greenhouse and prick them out to grow on in the coldframes until I am ready to plant them in their final spaces during the autumn clear up. You can do the same thing in a seedbed in your garden if that suits you better.
So much is growing in the greenhouse right now that I have to make the most of every available space – here you can see newly germinated cucumbers balanced in front of the propagator!
There is plenty of salad to pick from and I will be starting off outdoor crops this month – the greenhouse is too hot for salad throughout the summer. I will start sowing trays of winter salads in late August and September.
Outside in the cold frames there are plenty of little seedlings getting ready to be planted out. Below you can see the sweet peas. I am waiting for a new supply of jute netting to arrive from Agriframes and then these will be planted outside.
These little plants of nigella, cornflowers and scabious need to grow on a bit more before I put them outside to fully harden off. There is a constant process of sowing seeds, pricking out, growing on in the cold frames and then moving the young plants outside for a few nights before planting in the garden. This is a very slow process at the start of the year, but speeds up as the temperatures rise. It is important to keep moving the seedlings on in this way as any delays can damage their ability to produce fruit or flowers later in the summer.
Ruby popped in for a visit whilst I was taking these photos. I never see her drinking inside the house, but she is always happy to sip from a puddle.
Finally for this month, the flowers I harvested today from the greenhouse bed waiting to be arranged inside. I always cut flowers and put them straight into water, so that they can have a drink whilst I am getting on with jobs outside.
For the rest of April I will be concentrating on potting up the dahlias and finishing sowing my half hardy seeds. There are also summer bulbs to be planted – more ranunculus, gladioli, acidanthera and freesia. Although most will go outside, I always keep a few in the greenhouse for earlier flowering. As the temperatures rise it becomes more important to check the greenhouse daily to make sure the plants have enough water and to leave the door open to aid ventilation.
In May things will be a little quieter in my greenhouse – with the bulk of the seed sowing over it will be time to bring in my table and chairs for summer coffee breaks, drop the shading (which I will be talking about next month) and start planning to fill the space with summer flowers. As little has changed in my new small greenhouse this month I have not included any photos – there will be more to see next month though – the potatoes should be up and I will be getting ready to plant tomatoes and cucumbers into the greenhouse beds.
I would love to see what is growing in your greenhouse this month – please do leave a link or just a comment about what you are up to!