Start sowing in April
Discover the gorgeous flowers and delicious veg you can start from seed this month, with Sally Nex
This is the month I start to breathe a little easier. We’re not completely free of frost but the cold spells are milder and they don’t last as long: and there’s proper warmth in April sunshine, too. Time to ease off the brakes and start filling the garden with big jungly vegetables and the kind of flouncy summer flowers that just make you smile.
More seed sowing advice:
April seed sowing inspiration
Plants featured in this video
You probably already grow courgettes – but there are loads of other summer squashes to explore, all prolifically generous and harvested super-young. Among my favourites are 'Sunburst' patty pan squashes, which make flattened circular fruits with scalloped edges, like brilliant yellow flying saucers. Look out for crookneck squash too, with fruits like wonky skittles and a great flavour.
Climbing French beans
You can’t grow too many French beans in my book: I could eat them every day in summer, picked fresh, slender and sweet straight from the plant. They freeze really well too, which is another excuse for planting twice as many as I should! My go-to for standard green beans is the prolific variety 'Cobra', but I can’t resist a few wigwams of purple 'Cosse Violette' too, for their pretty mauve flowers followed by delicious deep purple beans.
Scatter annual opium poppy seeds now onto patches of damp earth and you can look forward to a breathtaking display of beauty not just this summer, but every summer afterwards too: they self-seed charmingly into every corner, coming back in different shades and combinations each season – poppies are never boring. Everything about these flowers is a little miracle, from the exquisitely sculpted centre surrounded by its ruff of stamens to the delicate, papery petals: I wouldn’t be without them.
More like this
Annual rudbeckias are a bit of a gardener’s secret – not as well known as more widely-grown summer flowers like cosmos, but just as easy and reliable – it’s one of the longest-flowering annuals I know. I keep the shorter dwarf varieties for containers – in the flower borders I go for lovely, tall willowy varieties like 'Cherokee Sunset' with its variable flowers – some double, some single - in shades of cinnamon and turmeric; or the beautifully subtle 'Irish Eyes' with pale green centres and long, elegant golden petals.
NEW 2-for-1 Gardens card & guide, included with the May issue! Plus, get 6 FREE seed packs and 10% off plant shopping. In stores or online.