What’s happening in your gardening zone? Take an early spring tour of my Pacific Northwest greenhouse and garden in zone 8B. I’ll be updating you on the seedlings in the greenhouse, what’s blooming in the garden, and the next steps on the list of things to do.
The garden is finally starting to wake up and the spring bulbs and perennials are popping up out of the ground. April is a really fun month for gardening. Things are growing quickly and we’re finally starting to see some beautiful blooms.
We are gardening zone 8B with an average last frost date of April 18th. I will most likely wait until the first of May to start transplanting my seedlings to the raised beds though. At the end of this post, you can visit my gardening friend Stacy of Bricks ‘n Blooms. Stacy lives in New Jersey and is gardening zone 6A which is usually around May 15th.
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I’m a self-taught hobby gardener, not a Master Gardener. Everything I share with you on my blog is my personal opinion and things that worked for me along the way.
Here’s what’s Happening in The Greenhouse
Sweet peas are my very favorite seeds to grow. First of all, they are huge compared to most of the other seeds, so they’re really easy to work with. They seem to germinate very quickly, so I can always breathe a sigh of relief when I see that most of the seeds germinate successfully.
I will be pinching my little sweet pea seedlings this weekend. Once your seedlings grow to 4-6 inches tall, it’s important to pinch out the central growing tip just above the leaf joint, leaving 2-3 leaf nodes. This helps to encourage the plant to branch from the base rather than shooting straight up.
Notes for Next Year
The biggest thing I learned this year is that I might need to get a grow light. I never really paid much attention to how quickly my little seed starts were growing. But now that I have so many gardeners sharing their success stories, I’m starting to see that my seedlings are growing so very slowly. Now, don’t get me wrong, they grow beautifully in the end, but I’d like to see them grow a little healthier and stronger with more light.
I’ve sown all of the seeds that will grow indoors, including zinnias and cosmos. I was a little behind this year and didn’t get them started in that 6 week time frame I was hoping for, but then again, I don’t think I’ve ever made that timeframe, so I guess we’re good!
Jax is always my gardening helper and has a special place to sit and watch people walking up and down the street from the greenhouse.
Geraniums are annuals for most zones with the exception of zone 11 and 12. They are such a great flower for outdoor containers and window boxes, but I was paying hundreds of dollars a year to buy them at the local nursery.
I started transplanting my geraniums into pots and overwintering them in the greenhouse, until after the threat of frost. They did really well this year! I’ve started several geranium plants from cuttings as well.
My Early Spring Pacific Northwest Garden in April
It’s All About the Spring Bulbs
Tulips in the Raised Beds
I’m one of those crazy gardeners. You know the ones that plant all these fabulous flowers but find it so hard to cut them and enjoy them indoors because I want the garden to stay pretty. Please tell me you can understand this!
But when I read Erin Benzakein’s Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden book, I really took her message about a cutting garden to heart. She basically said that, unlike a mixed border, a cutting garden’s primary job is to produce a bounty of cut blooms all season long. The flowers that fill it are there to be harvested, not left on the plants for garden decorations.
So I decided this year to grow tulips in one of my raised beds for early spring blooms in the garden. This way, I can still have all my pretty tulips around the garden for show, but I can cut these beauties and put them in the house to enjoy. I started out with only one bed this year, but I think I will try different varieties that bloom at different times for next year.
For extra protection against deer, I use Liquid Fence every couple of weeks.
Daffodils for Days
Daffodils are my favorite spring bulbs for a couple of reasons.
- They come back bigger and better each year, unlike tulips.
- Daffodils can be split every few years, so you are getting extra bulbs to plant in other places around the garden.
- Deer will usually leave daffodils alone, which is the most wonderful reason of all.
- There are many varieties so you can get flowers that bloom in early and later spring in the garden.
This spring bulb isn’t just the bright yellow blooms we usually see. There are so many fun and gorgeous varieties offered these days.
I’m usually pretty careful to not go overboard this time of year because we still have cold noghts in the 30s, but there are some beautiful blooms just perfect for garden containers right now.
- Primroses (I tend to plant these with some shelter from the rain. The flowers tend to get slimy and don’t last long after they are rained on).
- Pansies and Violas
I will admit that containers look a little sad when they are first planted. I can’t wait for them to fill out.
Take a Walk Around my Cottage Garden
There are plenty of shrubs blooming in the garden in early spring. I love how the Japanese Pieris looks this time of year, giving the garden a definite pop of color.
The PNW or Pacific Northwest is known for its stunning rhododendrons and azaleas. We just started getting blooms on the first azalea plant.
Here are some white heather shrubs which make one of the only statement in the winter garden. Although they’re still pretty, the blooms are beginning to fade.
These gorgeous perennial primroses not only add interest to the early spring garden in April, but they are so easy to divide.
I was given 3 plants from my neighbor years ago, and I divide and transplant more and more of them every year.
I may have added the crocuses when I really shouldn’t have. Most of them have bloomed and gone by now, but I still wanted to show you how beautiful they were last month.
How do you like my new elevated herb garden? I am loving it! I can move it under cover when the weather gets a bit rough. It was so easy to plant without getting on my bad knees.
What to do in the April Garden
I’ll be starting to work in the garden to get ready for all the fun summer bulbs I’ll be planting soon! Along with weeding, I’ll be dividing some of my perennials and transplanting them to other areas in the garden.
This is the time I cut back my outdoor ferns to the ground. Now, you don’t have to cut them that much, but I love to get a fresh start with them every year and they always look beautiful. I’ll also need to divide some of them too. Here you can see I cut a section down already. They look pretty awful for a month or so, but then you will be so happy that you did it.
I’ll be sharing a blog post about this next week so stay tuned.
Well, as you can see, things are starting to shape up around the garden in early spring. In another month, I will be transplanting all the seedlings to the cutting garden and should have most of my summer bulbs and perennials planted. The dahlia tubers will also be dug up and split in mid-April. Stay tuned for that!
I will be a busy little gardener this month! I’d love to hear what you’re working on in your garden as well. Keep reading to see what my friend Stacy is up to.
You will not want to miss the lessons Stacy learned when she started her seeds indoors. You will learn so much from her.
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