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I find that spring starts much the same time in the south of France as it does in England, though winter tends to start later. April here is action month just as it is in the UK. If there is a month you really don't want to be away on holiday it is April, there is loads to do. I love it, warm but (usually) not too hot. Everything bursting into life. Lots of early colour to be seen. Fab.
Lift large clumps, split with a spade and re-plant. Couldn't be easier. This is the easiest way to increase your stocks of plants. Newly divided clumps need watering in and you need to give a bit of water if it gets very dry. A bit of fertiliser when you divide or lots of nice compost and that's about it!
Anything you decided last year was in the wrong place can be moved now and should get off to a good start before it gets too hot. I try to keep a gardening diary these days so that if during the year I see things I want to change I write it down and then don't forget the following April.
If you didn't do this last month add a fertiliser rich in nitrogen and potassium to your roses. Hoe into the soil at the base.
Prune buddleia and lavatera, cut these hard back to stop growth from being 'leggy'.
Cut back all hydrangea stems which flowered last year. Leaving these on until now provides some frost protection during the winter.
Tie in Stems
Take a look at your climbers and see which ones need to be tied in to their supports. Clematis tend to need a helping hand to get going on their supports, honeysuckle as well. I find wisteria can usually manage on its own.
You can sow annuals and perennials now.
Good annuals to provide lots of colour are: zinnias, sunflowers and cosmos (especially the lovely dark pink colours).
Perennials worth trying are: coreopsis, helenium (one of my all-time favourite flowers, choose a lovely orange shade such as Moorheim beauty), lupin and verbascum. Verbascums lovely spikes of flowers provide real height and contrast in your garden. Some salvias are easy to grow from seed too.
If the weather has warmed up and plants are growing well you can take soft wood cuttings. Take cuttings early in the morning when they are fully hydrated. Lavender is very easy to propogate by softwood cuttings.
Make sure you keep up with weeding as the weeds will be growing strongly now.
In the Potager (vegetable garden)
Sow broad beans, peas, salad crops, carrots, spinach, beetroot, brussel sprouts, cabbage, leeks and cauliflower. Almost everything really. Remember to sow salads and spinach etc every two or three weeks to keep supplies going.
Put card collars around young cabbage plants to prevent cabbage root fly.
I eat loads of salad and find the best to grow are a range of lettuce, beetroot ( for the young redish leaves), spinach (again for the tender young leaves), rocket (my favourite), and flat leaved parsley. Mache or lambs lettuce is extremely popular in France and a very useful addition to salad. Don't forget to grow some chives to chop over the top and the flowers of chives, nasturtiums and borage are good in salads too.
I find its useful to have pots of chives, coriander, and basil in pots near to the house.
Sow pumpkins, courgettes, squashes and melons. It is best to start these off in pots and plant out next month after any risk of late frosts. Plant seeds on their sides to prevent seeds from going mouldy.
Start planting potatoes.
What to do in the garden next month