"April To Do List – Part One," by the Whistling Gardener

Mini Garden - Good things come in small packages. Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Nursery.
Mini Garden - Good things come in small packages. Photo courtesy of Sunnyside Nursery.

This weekly column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville. 

Yes, this month it will take two weeks to dispense all my gardening wisdom for the month of April. There’s just too darn much to do to fit it into one column.

Assess winter damage—I know, it was a mild winter but the freezes we had back in November and early December caused some damage, especially to plants that were in containers. Don’t be surprised if you have some plants crap-out on you. There’s no point in moping over it. Just consider it an opportunity to try something new.

Roses—roses are cruising along nicely this spring. Everyone should have pruned their roses hard last month and now is the time to feed the little ladies. Apply two cups of an organic rose food, a handful of lime and an inch of new compost.

Gardeners have lots of options for controlling insects and disease and whether you choose natural or synthetic do something because if you wait until your rose looks like someone dumped a bag of powdered sugar on it you won’t be able to clean it up.

Come down to the garden center and ask a Certified Professional Horticulturist to sort it all out for you. These folks know what they are talking about and can help with all kinds of gardening questions.

Lawns—I am not sure what happened this winter but I have had countless customers tell me their lawns have turned to mud and look like the surface of the moon.

All I can say is that April is the consummate month to resurrect an ugly lawn which could mean simply killing a few weeds and fertilizing to nuking whatever is left and starting over (which is what I am going to have to do).

I have pontificated so much in the past about lawn care that again I would recommend coming into the nursery and speaking with a CPH. These people really know their stuff and won’t make you feel like an idiot (like I would).

Pruning—There is always something to prune in the garden, no matter what time of year it is. I already mentioned roses but hydrangeas can be cleaned up now to remove any dead wood and old flower blossoms.

Red twig dogwoods should be cut back hard now and grapes and kiwis need serious pruning to keep them in check and control the amount of fruit they will set.

Same is true for wisteria but be careful not to prune off the blooms. They are swelling now so should be easy to see. Peaches also need heavy pruning every year to keep them in a vigorous state of growth.

More chores next week.

Educational opportunity—need a break from all these cotton-pickin chores?

Come to our class on Saturday, April 4th,  “Good Things Come in Small Packages” and learn how to select plants for miniature gardens, both indoors and outdoors. Dwarf conifers, small maples, perennials, sedums and so much more.

Learn how to plant these beauties into containers for years of enjoyment. Join the dynamic duo Trevor Cameron, C.P.H. & Chris Hinricksen, C.P.H. for this fun class.

This is a FREE class that starts @ 10am! RSVP is appreciated.

Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached at 425-334-2002 or online at


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