Brad Jalbert is an expert on all things roses. The Langley nursery owner has a Facebook page offering videos and tips. (Special to the Langley Advance)

LANGLEY’S GREEN THUMB: Checklist for getting going in the garden this April

Perennials are peeking out, bulbs are blooming, and weeds are taking hold – so here’s a few tips.

Rain, sun, hail, wind – welcome to spring in the Lower Mainland.

Some people don’t mind working outside in all elements, and some of us have to regardless.

This is the time of year when most of the prep work in the garden will result in beautiful gardens a little later.

There are certain things that need to be completed now, and we have made a small list of them; there are many more in each individual garden, but this is a general list to get you started.

Lawns – this is a great time to power rake out all that thatch that has accumulated beneath the surface over the winter; aerate to get air to the roots and fertilize to jump start your healthy lawn for the season.

A healthy lawn will tolerate the drought of summer much better so a little work now will help for later.

Bulbs – daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths are in full bloom right now.

This is a good time to give them a shot of fertilizer to help the bulb recover from the energy it puts out to produce flowers.

Once the blooms are finished, trim off the flower heads, but leave the foliage on the plant until it dies down completely – this will also help feed the bulbs so that they will come back just as healthy next year.

Roses – we learned many years ago that when the forsythia is in bloom, that is the time for spring pruning of the roses.

This is also a good time to fertilize your roses, but remember – do not over fertilize.

Ask an expert if you have any doubts about how much.

The very best source for rose information is Brad Jalbert at Select Roses in Langley.

The Select Roses Facebook page now offers videos on correct pruning, for both in ground and containers, so we recommend you check that out.

Perennials – by now, all the garden beds should be cleaned up and new growth on all the perennials is starting to show. It has been a bit chilly lately, so we have noticed a few plants being a little slower this year, but they will catch up soon.

Dividing of any perennials should be done by now.

Mid-late April is when we generally advice fertilizing the perennials – either with a top dressing of a good well-rotted compost, or with a slow release product (our favourite is Osmocote 14-14-14 as it lasts 3-4 months), especially in containers.

Annuals – while many annuals are now available, if you pick them up be sure to put them somewhere a little protected for now… it is much too early to plant them out.

One hard frost and you will be going back to the store to buy more, so don’t rush.

We never plant our annuals until the May long weekend, just to be on the safe side.

Vegetables – get your garden beds prepared, select your seeds and sow those inside that require growth before transplanting outside after frost.

Some seeds, like carrots, radishes, lettuce, can be sown directly into the soil after all chance of frost has passed.

Pumpkins, tomatoes, squash, etc. are best sown inside and easy to transplant later.

We sow our peas inside and then transplant fairly early since they don’t mind the cold, but watch for those pesky cabbage worms that seem to enjoy our early growth.

Weeds – while this is an excellent time to make sure you have weeded before some of them go to seed, please keep in mind that we also need to help the bees a little – that first flowering of the dandelions is an excellent source of early pollen and nectar for our buzzing friends.

There are a multitude of other tasks at this time of year, but mostly we need a little help from Mother Nature as the sun makes a big difference.

For ongoing information, check out your favourite nursery, a local garden club, and the multitude of local club plant sales at this time of year.

– Pam Erikson is owner of Erikson’s Daylily Gardens

and Perennials and president of the Langley Garden Club.

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