Spring Time is Busy-Time in the Garden! 14 Things I Am Up To this April

Apr 07, 2021

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Last night I sat down and enjoyed Sorrel Chicken with the very sorrel you see in the picture above. Yep, sorrel can make it through the winter without a hiccup (even a Bend winter!) so long as it is planted in the ground. 🙂

To say I was tickled beyond a smile is an understatement. While it did take a year for my two sorrel plants grown from seed to be this strong, and I was able to enjoy it last year as I showed in this video, it is already doing better in April than it did during the strongest month last year.

Sorrel Chicken (watch episode #1 of season 3, The Simply Luxurious Kitchen)

All of this is to say, Spring has sprung! The time has arrived to start the bustle of putting plans into place, sowing the seeds, stepping outside into the dirt and having more than just a little fun. 🙂

Today I would like to share with you 14 things I will be doing, enjoying and savoring this month as the investment of our time in spring offers amazing dividends in the summer and beyond. Let’s take a look.

1.Mulch!

Looking forward to a day off next Friday, I will be excitedly spreading the compost full of organic material around my garden as liberally as possible. The delivery truck will be unloading early in the morning, and my workout begins shortly thereafter with wheelbarrow and shovel in hand.

This year I have chosen to apply compost rather than bark as the compost will do the same thing regarding water retention and weed prevention, but with my soil being so incredibly dry, I wanted to add back as much nutrients as possible. Hopefully my perennials, annuals and vegetables will do the talking in the aesthetics department. 🙂

2. Planting shallots

Always having a couple of shallots on hand in my kitchen (I kick myself whenever I neglect to restock), I am excited to grow my own shallots this year. Each bulb can amazingly produce 6-12 shallots, and they store well during the winter providing a bountiful crop throughout the year eliminating or at least greatly reducing my need to run to the store to resupply. 🙂

I started mine in a seed tray last weekend, half-submerging them in soil. As soon as the tops begin to produce green shoots and roots appear at the bottom (and after I place my compost in my garden next week), I will be planting them outdoors as they can withstand the frost. Hopefully I will be harvesting them in early August.

3. Planting my vegetables

From broccoli, to radishes, more lettuces (my second go-round as the first crop was harvested in March and late February -see the image below), courgettes and pumpkins, I am excited to try to grow more of my own vegetables from seed. While I won’t be able to plant them outside until after the last frost (which is in early June for Bend), I am using my indoor mini-green house to keep them warm and happy.

I began planting two Chef Choice tomatoes a couple of weeks ago and have already transplanted them. Last weekend I sowed the seeds for the four remaining types of tomatoes I am giving a try, and in a couple of week’s time, I will transplant them into their individual pots.

~Lettuce! Arugula is in the background and French Mache (lamb’s tongue) is in the foreground.~
~broccoli~

4. Savoring the daffodils blooming in succession

The first to bloom were the Double Daffodil Repletes which have now concluded their performance. Currently the British Gambles are blooming, and soon my Art Design Double Daffodils will begin to bloom (in fact a few have already begun to open). Needless to say, the daffodils have been a lovely bridge from winter to spring as the latter season arrives a bit later here than in most areas.

~British Gamble daffodils~
~Double Daffodil Repletes~

5. Delighting in the Snowdrops

Already six inches tall with their green shoots rising from the ground, the snowdrops are nearly ready to share their blooms, but not just yet. When they do, I cannot wait to see the small sea of white and green next to my forsynthia under my pine tree. 🙂 Stay tune for pictures in next month’s A Cuppa Moments (have you checked out this month’s yet?).

6. Sowing the seeds of annual flowers

I will be giving my best efforts to growing annual blooms from seed to save money and hopefully create a mini cutting garden in my boulevard as well as introduce color throughout the summer season. From Snapdragons (just last weekend, I transplanted them once they were one inch tall to their individual small pots -see below), to Bells of Ireland, Cosmos, Nasturtiums, Larkspur and Prairie Sun black-eyed susans. Fingers crossed!

7. Eagerly waiting for the Globemaster Alliums to shoot from their base and share their awesome spherical charm

Last fall I planted about 20 bulbs both in my boulevard to add some early color and in my herb garden near my kitchen to add height and color during the early summer and late spring. I am absolutely tickled by how well they are doing thus far, and perhaps by month’s end, we’ll see spherical purple orbs appear.

8. Feeding my roses

The first feeding of the year for the roses will take place this month, and already I am seeing my roses beginning to prepare to leaf-out. The second feeding will take place after their first bloom which is usually late June.

~I use David Austin’s Rose Food

9. Repairing my lawn

Having pups is far more important than having a perfect lawn, so I am combating a few spots that need new sod. Not large, so I am just going to repair with a single slab of grass and hopefully create a more presentable broadview of my small lawn area.

10. Keeping the birds happily fed

The morning birdsong has begun, and it tends to carry all through the day (in fact, on Sunday they serenaded the neighborhood all through the middle of the day and then upon evening when I sat down on my garden porch, they were soothing us again with their melodies). Keeping my two feeders full seems to keep the music happening as so many goldfinches and cassins as well as a few birds I haven’t been able to identify show up at Le Papillon’s bird cafes every day without fail.

~I make sure to have Black-oil sunflower seed in my birdfood mix. Here is birdfood that is entirly black-oil sunflower seed (recommended from the National Audubon Society, and here is the mix I use from Wild Birds Unlimited.

11. The first visit of the year to the local nursery

WIth a handful of perennials I want to purchase to fill in areas in the garden along with herbs I don’t have to grow from seed, I will be stopping by the nursey for the inaugural visit of the 2021. I love this first trip as has become somewhat of a celebratory ritual of a fresh start. Toodling through the greenhouse with my wagon, delighting in all of the beauty and hardwork no doubt the staff has been up to over the many months prior, it is a yearly ritual I look forward to all winter long.

12. Sowing herbs

For those handful of herbs that are not available as plants in nurseries, I sowed two weeks ago my Chervil, more Sorrel (althought last year’s sorrel is doing well and already quite happy as it winters well if planted directly into the ground), bush Basil.

~Read this post to discover how you too can sow your own seeds – 12 Simple Steps for Success

13. Planting out my foxgloves (but still covering at night)

I planted out three of my foxgloves this past week on the south side of my house in the herb garden (to provide color when the alliums are done), but have been covering them with mini glass cloches (aka as glass vases :)). I think they will be fine, but I am trying to acclimatize them a bit longer until they are stronger. I have about 10 others I will be planting out on the east side later this month.

~these foxgloves will be planted on the east side and will go back inside at night.~

14. Planting winter orders now shipping and planning the boulevards

Gradually I have been adding perennials and roses to my boulevard and someday hope to have it quite full and capable of offering color beginning in late spring and running through early autumn. So far I have quite a bit of space to play with, but as I see what works well where, I will begin to add more plants. For example, I would like to add more salvia (deer resistant and continually grow in size from year to year, filling up great spaces for late spring and early summer color).

Arriving this month will be hellebores, lupins, a couple of small butterfly bushes and Geranium Rozanne I purchased this past winter and I am excited to add them to the garden. It’s fun to ‘paint’ in the garden, and as I am not a traditional painter or artist when it comes to adding color to a canvas, my garden has become my ‘canvas’. Some things will work, some won’t, but the fun is in trying and experiment. And when it works, oh my! 🙂


Needless to say, I am giddy that it is spring, and my garden seems to change overnight. As I was doing some weeding last weekend, I couldn’t help but be reminded of how much peace I felt all last spring, summer and early fall each time I was outside pottering/puttering around. The healing gift our gardens provide is as near priceless as it can be after we’ve purchased the seeds, paid for the bulbs and invested in the proper tools. 🙂

It is early evening as I type, and as soon as I close my laptop, I will be sitting down on my garden porch with a hot cuppa, letting the birdsong lull my busy mind to a crawl and taking in the lawn that is slowing showing its green for the year, smiling with each peek at the daffodils and feeling grateful to have a space, no matter how small, to work with Mother Nature and discover what patience and collaboration with the weather that is offered can produce.

Wishing you a wonderful spring in your own garden, and may your seeds sprout, your nails gather dirt and the rain and sun provide in ideal amounts what your garden most appreciates. Bonne journée!

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23 thoughts on “Spring Time is Busy-Time in the Garden! 14 Things I Am Up To this April

  1. Hi Shannon,

    I am loving your gardening posts! A post on how you’ve laid out your garden would be appreciated. You seem to be doing exactly what I want to do – planting herbs, vegetables, and flowers. But, I’m struggling with how to do it. Are you mixing your vegetables and herbs into the flowers/landscape? Do you have dedicated spaces for cut flowers, vegetables, herbs?

    Best,
    Kristi

    1. Karonica,

      I am building a potager or cottage garden style of garden due to the small space I have. Many of the vegetables are planted right in the rockery (or on top a my rhubarb is) or directly into the borders along my house – the blueberries and strawberries, etc., so the veg and fruit (as well as the herbs now) are also part of the beauty of the garden. I love this as it makes the entire garden usable and utilizes the space well. My boulevards are quite public, but they are mine (and in beautiful south facing sunshine all day, so I am going to condition the heck out of the soil and grow what I can’t in my enclosed lawn. As the year progresses, I will begin to show more as it comes together. No doubt there will be head-scratching moments, but I am having fun. Thank you for stopping by and sharing how you are approaching your garden as well 🙂 Happy spring!

  2. I enjoyed the post greatly Shannon, thank you.
    It’s always interesting to hear what other gardeners have growing in their gardens, especially in different countries , or also, in your case , different states.
    It is interesting that your daffodils flower before your snowdrops……. here in the UK, our snowdrops flower first , sometimes from late December, more usually during January and February , so mine are all finished now, as are my early tete a tete miniature daffodils , and crocus.
    I have Thalia narcissi, early tulips, muscari , garden hyacinths and violas in flower at the moment, with late variety tulips still to come.
    My sorrel also survived the winter….I grow it in a pot ; as I just have a little patio garden most of my plants are grown this way.
    Lovely to see your seeds and young plants growing so well.
    You probably know this, but foxgloves are biannual, so don’t worry if they don’t flower this year for you.
    Enjoy your garden 🙂

    1. Thank you Anne for all that you have shared! What a truth regarding learning and listening to other gardeners from around the globe and in different states as you share. My foxgloves are my determined effort (these were my second sowing last summer and finally they sprang up out of the soil) to bring this beautiful flower to the garden. While they should have, as you know, have been planted in the garden last fall, they weren’t ready yet and I feared with our cold winters, they wouldn’t stand a chance to set themselves in before winter hit.
      I have a feeling the snowdrops are later than these particular daffodils because they are in a great deal of shade on the east side of the house, but again, I honestly don’t see snowdrops in Bend or Oregon for that matter, so I am just guessing. 🙂 Thalia narcissi – how beautiful and muscari – such a delicate gem. Your garden is no doubt a sight to see and a place to find peace. Thank you so much for sharing and sharing how you winter your sorrel. So good to hear there are many ways to bring it through the cold months! 🙂 Happy spring and wishing you much fun in the garden.

      1. Once your foxgloves are established they should self seed quite easily 🙂 as long as they are happy where you have planted them x

  3. Hello Shannon, what a joy to read about your spring garden, thank you! It truly sounds like a heavenly place to experience the season unfolding.
    I’m smiling about sorrel because ~ just another wee serendipity to share, as we somehow stumbled into planting sorrel last year (here’s how silly, I think I picked it up remembering a character name in a Noel coward play 🤣). We made a super simple Sorrel soup, and were all sort of quiet ~ blown away, loved it so much! We’re still talking about it haha. (Sorrel, onion, potato, broth, egg; it’s sorrel soup on epicurious site if you want to use some of your crop.)
    I’m remembering your triple layer bulb pots, and so want to try that for next year, your daffodils are so gorgeous and inspiring…
    Happy Wednesday to everybody xoxo

  4. What a lovely post! It is so exciting to be at the beginning of everything lovely in the garden!

    My Canterbury Bells have just sprouted, and I have sweet peas to start. I’m waiting for some plants and a rosebush to come in the mail soon.

    In the meantime, I will be doing lots of mulching with you in spirit! Good luck with your foxgloves and all of your vegetables! I can’t wait to see how they turn out. 🍅🥦🧅🌱🌻

    1. Debby, Upon reading your comment I quickly googled Canterbury Bells – how adorable! thank you for sharing. Isn’t this time of year fun when it comes to the mail deliveries? 🙂 What will the mail carrier give me to place in my garden? Hmmm – I do love that surprise and the task that will follow. Thank you for stopping by and have fun in your garden as well!

  5. Shannon. Great job with the sorrell Isn’t Spring so glorious. It’s a busy time for us gardeners . All that sowing and nurturing. It all sounds as though it’s taking shape in an organic way. I think as gardeners new and experienced there’s always something to learn. Some plants take some cajoling. After all these years the lupins refuse to humour me. You’re so right about the gift of healing provided by gardening. I think it should be on a prescription for good health. The soil contains a plethora of good bacteria beneficial for our gut health. So the more soil you get under your fingernails the better. I was all set to plant out some seedlings this week but the weather changed dramatically and started to snow yesterday . So will have to wait another week. A lot of the orchards in my area have been lighting huge candles throughout the night to keep the buds warm. It looks so pretty but is a tense time. Mine is very sheltered so I think we’ll be fine. My roses love used coffee grains and tea leaves. I put them directly on to the base. Try taking cuttings from your roses when they’re established to increase your stock. Best done in autumn though. Nasturtiums are great in amongst the vegetables. They help with pest control and are edible. The flowers and young leaves look pretty in a salad and the leaves make a great pesto. The flowers also make a cake look pretty . Happy gardening🍃🌿

    1. Kameela, Thank you for stopping by! I saw flurries of snow in France – oh my! Thankfully it is spring and the nicer weather will return. Thank you for sharing what orchards have been doing during this time to keep the buds warm. That must take a lot of work, but well worth it. Thank you as well for sharing about the coffee grounds. Yes, aren’t nasturtiums lovely, and what a lovely idea to keep them amongst the vegetables for all sorts of reasons. 🙂 Wishing you a beautiful snow-free spring and beautiful blooms.

  6. Hi Shannon! I am re-reading “French Women For All Seasons” by Mireille Guiliano and saw that she included three recipes with sorrel and I immediately thought about you. I’ve tried many of the recipes from her books and have been delighted at how easy and quickly they come together- none of the recipes are particularly fussy and all have been delicious. You may be interested in her recipes for “Salmon with Sorrel”, “Chicken Breasts with Sorrel Sauce” and “Scrambled Eggs with Sorrel”. Bon appetit!

    1. Deborah,

      Thank you very much for bringing these recipes to my and other readers’ attention. I will be pulling that book off the shelf this weekend and taking a look!! They each sound delicious!

  7. What kind of shallots are you growing?

    There was a farm in Salem maybe 10 years ago that grew French shallots, though if that was what they were officially called I don’t know. The were smaller and more oblong, but they were, IMHO, the best shallots I’ve ever had, and I do use shallots regularly,

  8. Shannon! I love love love your gardening posts.
    As a person new to gardening but thoroughly enjoying it, I really enjoy reading about your endeavours as it helps me think more about what I want to achieve.
    Thank you for the reminder about rose food – I’ve just ordered my David Austin rose food so that I can feed my new climbing rose – David Austin Gertrude Jekyll (hoping to cover an ugly garage wall) and a little shrub rose I was gifted but am hoping to encourage it to grow.
    I share your love of bird song and love to feed the birds to encourage them into my garden.
    Im not as brave with veg yet as you, but hoping your successes encourage me to try. I may have to start a veg patch – though I am keen to grow tomatoes and plan to sow some seeds this weekend 🤞

    It was my birthday last weekend and I was fortunate to receive a potting table, a beautiful heritage navy and copper watering can and some Borgen and Ball hardwoods handled tools – amongst other gardening paraphernalia (clearly my loved ones have taken note of my new found hobby!) and I can’t wait to get out and use them this weekend,

    Happy mulching this Friday and I can’t wait to see more of your art!
    xo

    1. Happy belated birthday Sarah 🙂 What lovely gifts and no doubt your family and loved ones know you well 🙂 I love the idea of growing the Gertrude Jekyll to cover your garage wall. No doubt, you will see an abundance of blooms and the wall will be disguised soon. 🙂 Wishing you much green, blooms and happy plants this season!

  9. Hi, Shannon. Recently, as I wait eagerly for a brand new podcast episode from you to arrive on my Spotify playlist, I’ve been catching up on your old episodes of the Simple Sophisticate. I listened to one on gardening from 2018 and I learned so much! There was one takeaway that I will always keep in mind now as I arrange my pots. “Thriller, Filler and Spiller.” Thank you for that! So smart and easy to remember as I peruse the nursery aisles.

    Wishing you a beautiful weekend in your garden. 🙂

    1. Millicent, Thank you very much for tuning in to the podcast and tickled to hear this particular idea spoke to you. I know for me, keeping this approach in mind helped simplify the selection process and made it more enjoyable as well. Wishing you much fun in your garden this weekend. 😌

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