April is the most hopeful month of the year. The light has returned, and boosted by the transition to summer time the evenings become longer and lighter. As the snow is rapidly melting, I dig out my gardening books and spend many delightful hours planning this years planting in the kitchen garden. It will still be some time until I can start growing vegetables in earnest, but it is the perfect time to visit online seed catalogues and order this years seeds.
My current favourite online seed catalogue is Runebergs fröer in Sweden (http://www.runabergsfroer.se), which has an excellent selection of old fashioned and organic seeds. It is a small family run business that specialises in seeds for the nordic climates, with a strong ethos of preserving heritage varieties.
In the garden the first brave spring bulbs are turning up amongst last years leaves, reminding me that it is time to rake the flowerbeds and move to the compost the leaves and twigs that have protected my perennials during the harsh winter.
It takes about a day to tidy up the boarder in my woodland garden by the berså at Stensund, but I try to catch a sunny day and enjoy the warm spring weather.
Of all my tools, I like my sturdy old metal rake the best. It must be at least 20 years old by now, and although it is a bit rusty and has lost a few tines it is strong enough to manage the twigs and sticks that fill the boarder after winter. I also use a secateur to cut down any stalks from the perennials that have not broken off by themselves; the peonies for example that have very tough stems.
Stinging nettles poke their leaves above ground at this time of the year, so I remove them with roots and all. Although they are great feeding plants for butterfly larvae I feel we have enough space elsewhere for them.
This year I also cut back some of the flowering dogwood bushes (Cornus sericea) as they had grown tall and lanky. Last year if you remember I planted some more of the same kind, so I thought it might look nice if they all grow at the same pace this year. This spring I have decided to renovate the bordar a bit as well. As most plants still are dormant, the chaos beneath is not visible now but I assure you it is there with more weeds and grass invading the planting scheme than perennials!
As most of the garden is still sleeping, most of this month is spent in my extended garden -> the forrest and fields around the farm. It is a short month in many ways, as there are so many things that needs to be done after the snow has melted but before the growing season begins.One of these tasks is collecting and shredding branches from trees that have been felled in the previous year.
Last year the (if you remember) we cleared the field edges of overgrowing shrubs and trees, and gathered it all to dry in a large pile by the road side. This year, once it was all dry, a large lorry collected it for use as energy material in a power plant. Afterwards, the field was full of branches that the large gripping claws of the transport lorry had left behind, and it looked like this
It is tiresome work, collecting branches from the small field where the heaps stood, but the now dry twigs make for great mulch when shredded, and so we spend time and effort to gather them in heaps. A few weeks later, when they have had the time to dry out some more, we turn them into wood-chippings to use in the garden or in making paths through the woods.
Last but not least, this time of the year when new plants are still not growing food is more scarce for the local wildlife such as deer, and then they come visiting to feed on my Sedum carpet. This picture is taken from inside the house, when these two are standing right beside the porch.