April in the Mid-atlantic Garden

Garden Path
Garden Path | Source
I've already mowed the lawn twice before April 1.
I've already mowed the lawn twice before April 1. | Source

Warm Spring Brings May Flowers

Here on the east coast the exceptionally warm spring weather has brought May flowers to my April garden. With temperatures approaching 80 degrees, I've already given the lawn a second mowing. The first was to remove all the leaves and seed heads of rapidly developing dandylions, and the second was the first official cutting. Instead of May, trees and shrubs that usually bloom then are bursting with color on or before April arrived. So, what does this mean for us mid-atlantic gardeners who are used to following a program of what to do when? Just move everything up a month, i.e. what to do in May is your April in the Mid-Atlantic list now. As you can see in the above photo, my garden path shows the emergence of fresh sage, dogwoods in leaf, my Grandma Jennie's wild rose bush, hostas, iris, daylily and vinca which usually do not appear until mid-April.

Lily of the Valley
Lily of the Valley | Source

Decide What to Plant Now

On my way out the door to the mailbox today I noticed the violets were rapidly spreading their carpet of blue everywhere I had allowed them to thrive. Blue violets are very invasive, and my hubby disagrees with me over my permissive nature when it comes to a natural garden. However, one of my fondest childhood memories is of a shady spot where the blue violets had spread as they pleased. If you would like to grow blue violets, it is simple to just transplant them anywhere, they thrive in almost any soil. Again, be careful where you plant them, as they will take over.

Another plant that has emerged early this year is the Lily of the Valley, a small patch of which I've been nursing along for years near the front door. Once you've smelled this tiny flower you will surely fall in love with it. Again, it is very hardy and grows by rhisomes that spread like a strawberry plant.

April in the Mid-Atlantic is the month you should do your transplanting of any and all trees, shrubs, a few hardy annuals, perennials and vines. Especially after such a warm March, keeping your transplants well-watered may become a chore as it looks as if summer is fast approaching in May this year.

Remember the last frost day for the Mid-Atlantic is in mid May.


My blue bird house is vacant.
My blue bird house is vacant. | Source

Clean Out Your Bird Houses

Although the sparrows have chased off my blue birds, I still have plenty of other feathered friends in my yard including gold finches, mockingbirds, brown thrashers, robins, blue jays, cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, crows, flickers, downy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and an occasional pileated woodpecker.

What this means is I have a lot of bird feeders, including suet feeders, that I keep stocked year round. In the spring I clean out my bird houses, getting rid of any spider or wasp nests, ants, or other nuisance that has decided to take up residence during the winter. Now is also the time to keep your hummingbird feeder full of 50/50 water and sugar mixture. The additional sugar is to help the little fellows get back on their feet after their long trip north.


Azalea Border
Azalea Border | Source

Azaleas

Azaleas have always been a favorite of mine and I've grown a number of varieties over the past 40 years. When you purchase an azalea, have in mind where you want to plant it beforehand because they have specific requirements. They prefer a semi-shaded location, ideally on the north to northwest side of your home. The soil should be amended with plenty of peat and leafmold if you have it. Dig a hole that is about a half foot larger in diameter, and 3 inches deeper than the rootball of your plant. Dig out the soil from the hole and chop it up with the leafmold and peat. Back fill the bottom of the hole and set your plant on it to see if the top of the rootball is even with the sides of the hole. If so, remove the plant from the pot, loosen the white root mass a bit if it is a twisted around the pot, place in the hole and backfill with the rest of the amended soil. Water in and cover the ground with a couple inches of pine straw or some other mulch. Never weed or scratch underneath an azalea as their feeder roots grow near the surface of the soil.

Azaleas that have grown leggy or have dead limbs recover easily if you prune them after they bloom. Keep in mind, for every cut you make, at least 3 branches will emerge. I recall my Grandma Jennie, after taking a local gardening class, came back to our farm and drastically pruned her azaleas. The result was so amazing, I recall it as if it were yesterday how her old scraggly azaleas looked like they had just come from the nursery after she severly pruned them.

Hostas

Hosta Border
Hosta Border | Source

Hosta is another plant that has been a staple of my garden borders ever since I started gardening. My first plants were given to me by a friend, who had saved them from an abandoned farmhouse. The variety was that horrible variegated type, with twisted leaves. Hostas such as Elsie Williams grace my garden now. After joining The American Hosta Society in the 80s I had the chance to interview the famous hosta hibridizer, Alex Summers, at his Honeysong Farm, one of the premiere hosta gardens on the east coast located in Bridgeville, Delaware. There is actually a hosta named in his honor. Mr. Summers died in 2009 at the age of 95.

Hostas are native to Korea, Japan, and China. My Grandma Jennie called them by their common name or Plantain Lily. Very easy to grow, they are shade tolerant, herbaceous perennials. Known mainly for their beautiful foliage, hosta leaves come in a wide range of colors, sizes, shapes, and textures such as puckered.

If you purchase hosta, follow the same planting instructions as I give for azalea, incorporating peat and leafmold, then mulch and water. They are easily propogated by dividing the crown either early in the spring or in the fall. Quite frankly, hosta, like German iris, are difficult to kill, as a tiny piece of root will usually take hold and grow despite your efforts to kill it off.

In the spring I often find tiny hosta plants emerging that are crosses from my hosta border. From time to time an interesting hybrid will occur, such as one with yellow leaves.

Other Things To Do In April in the Mid-Atlantic

Besides purchasing new trees, shrubs and perennials, you will probably want to pop in a few annuals here and there for instant gratification. Depending on the location, whether full sun or shade, there is an annual for you which I'm sure Lowes or Home Depot carries in abundance.

As I was pulling out of the driveway on my way to work I noticed that my neighbor had a lawn service cut her lawn. Scalped is more like it. Here is my two cents about lawn: raise the level of our mower to its highest level and leave it there except for the one time you lower it in the late fall or early spring to remove dead leaves and debris. A thick lawn is achieved by allowing the lawn to grow 3 inches high, thick enough to keep weed seeds from germinating. I don't use any fertilizer besides compost which I throw about by the handfuls before a heavy rain is expected.

Happy Gardening!


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Comments 35 comments

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 4 years ago from the Ether

Lilleyth - Do you see faeries in your garden and yard? I do. They're all over the place there! You've created a warm and welcome environment for the faerie folk. I'm jealous! Great job. Keep posting pictures, they're absolutely gorgeous. :)


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic Author

Are they? Wonderful! I wish I had the gift to see them like you. Thank you.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Thanks for these great gardening tips! I was looking for some info on Hostas!


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic Author

Oh good, thank you Rebecca. Perhaps I'll concentrate on one hub about hosta culture.


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I woke up to a dusting of snow yesterday morning and was a bit jealous that your lily of the valley is starting to come up. Wow! I don't think I'll be seeing my hostas until the end of May. I had one that was so huge I cut it into four plants.

Enjoyed your hub!


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic Author

It has been in the 60's here the past couple days. Yes, you can get a lot of divisions from one hosta after a year or so. Same with lirope and daylily.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 4 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

I wish I had kittythedreamer's gift, too. I don't, but I think she's right. This is a lovely celebration of spring and growing things, and faeries are very much involved in your garden, whether we see them or not. Your pics are lovely.


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic Author

Thank you Sally. I've always strived for that cottage garden look, the one we used to see in our old fairy tale books.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Your garden looks lovely and well established. Thanks for sharing your photos with us. It looks like most of our country is going to have a much longer time of warm and hot days ahead. We had little to almost no winter down here in Houston. Covered the tender plants with old sheets perhaps 10 times or so when frosts were predicted. Enjoy your gorgeous lawn and garden! Voted up and beautiful.


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic Author

Yes, you guys have certainly had a rough winter. It got up to 69 here today. I hope we don't go into a 100-degree-every-day summer. Glad you enjoyed my hub. Thank you for commenting.


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa

You have a beautiful garden! We're having the same weather in the Midwest. It's crazy - my lilac bush and pear tree were blooming in March and they've never bloomed before May before. I'm enjoying the nice spring, but am dreading a hot, dry summer.


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic Author

Thank you Deborah. Yes, we are probably going to have to pay for this warm spring with 100-degree summer days. I appreciate your comments.


Dale Hyde profile image

Dale Hyde 4 years ago from Tropical Paradise on Planet X

Wonderfully presented hub and very informative. The photos are excellent and your achievements at gardening there around the home are awesome! Have to love all greenery in the gardens in the Mid-Atlantic states! Voted up, interesting and useful.


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 4 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

You have a beautiful natural looking garden. I love the cottage feel of a garden.

Beautiful photos and some great tips and ideas.

Thank you for sharing


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic Author

I appreciate the positive comments Dale. Thank you for stopping by.


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic Author

Thank you Rosemay. Thank you for commenting, I appreciate it.


Derdriu 4 years ago

Lilleyth, What a charming, colorful, compelling look at a precocious spring garden! Me too, I'm enjoying the earlier than usual appearance of spring plants. We went through a snowless winter, only to receive two snowy days when we least expected them. But all the plants bounced back, and the rural lawn is full of purple, white and yellow colors on the ground and green leaves in all the trees, even the ancient box elder in the north meadow.

Thank you for sharing the descriptions and the pictures!

Respectfully, Derdriu


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic Author

Thank you so much Derdriu, I'm delighted you enjoyed it.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

What a wonderful enjoyable read! lovely photos and descriptions - I must plant an Azalea!

Voted up and shared,thank you.


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic Author

Much appreciated and thank you for the comments and the "thumbs up". My photos in no way compare to yours though, which are masterpieces. Do try growing an azalea. You've only to watch the Masters to see how, after decades, they thrive and continue to provide beauty to the world.


QudsiaP1 profile image

QudsiaP1 4 years ago

I found this hub to be so refreshing and lovely. I love the nature and your beautiful pictures made me feel so happy. Such is the beauty of nature.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

You have a beautiful yard! I love all your plants and especially your hostas! I have planted many different varieties of hostas, but they don't do well here as we have such hot summers. I look forward to seeing a hub from you on hostas, maybe I can learn something to help me with them. This is a marvelous hub! Voted up and across the board! Have a wonderful day! :)


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic Author

QudsiaP1 - Thank you for strolling through my garden and leaving your gentle comments.


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic Author

Thank you Ms. Brown. I am working on a hosta hub which is quite challenging as there is much to tell. But before making you wait, I offer this advice: Hostas do well in a northerly location, in partial to heavy shade. They can withstand dry soil, and actually I've grown them in all types of soil. After living in the Carolinas, where the clay soil is horrendous, I've found gardening here delightful. The soil is wonderful, the weather is mild - we rarely see a tornado or hurricane - I'm quite content. Thank you for the thumbs up!!


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 4 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

Hello Lilleyth. Thank you for the tip! I have them planted in heavy shade, but for some reason several of them will just not come back the next spring. I have yet to figure out why. I look forward to you hub. So glad to hear you are enjoying gardening so much where you live now. I wish we had good soil here. We actually live along a rock ridge and the soil is horrible. I add to it every year and have had quite a bit of success. Have a wonderful day! :)


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic Author

Hmmm, perhaps you have voles that are nibbling on your roots. Do you see any holes around the site?


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 4 years ago from South Carolina

Great tips, especially since I live in the MidAtlantic. Thanks so much for sharing this. Voted up across the board except for funny.


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic Author

Thank you Happyboomernurse. I appreciate the thumbs up very much!


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 4 years ago from California

Hostas have eluded me. Someone walked past as I was gardening and ask me how Hoatas did in California? They were new to the neighborhood. I didn't have a clue. My mom, from the east, knew all about them, even had some of them in a shady part of her yard. They were never the full and prolific plant I have heard about.


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic Author

They grow nicely in the shade, and prefer shade over full sun. You should give them a try.


2patricias profile image

2patricias 4 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

It is interesting to see a garden from another climate zone. We live on the coast in Southeast England. Like you, we had very warm weather before Easter, but now it has turned chilly again.

It can be difficult to grow hostas here because the leaves get eaten by snails.


klarawieck 4 years ago

Lilleyth, what a beautiful hub. At my old house, I enjoyed all the benefits and spiritual lessons that gardening has to offer. I miss it sometimes. But your writing shows your knowledge and love for nature, your dedication and patience as well. I'll come back to this article from time to time. It makes me want to move up north.


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic Author

Oh thank you Klara, I appreciate the kind comments. The soil here is excellent for growing everything, so it makes it easy to garden here.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Love the lawnmower in the shot! Living below the Mason Dixon line means mowing your yard in March.

Your taste in plants runs similar to mine, or it might just be that we live where these thrive.


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic Author

Thanks for stopping by Kathleen. We are definitely a month ahead of schedule here.

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