Far from being an ‘April fools’ prank, it’s true that the term ‘April showers’ stems from meteorological predictions that this is most likely the wettest month of the year. Although not 100% guaranteed, it would be a wise decision for any gardener to prepare for the possibility of heavy rainfall. So, grab your waterproofs and get weather ready.
What are April showers?
According to the UK Met Office, April showers are caused by a contrast in various air temperatures at different levels. Warm air rising from the ground clashes with the cooler air and pushes it skyward, causing clouds to form and resulting in an increased possibility of rainfall—the April showers we know and, ahem, love. But, how can we prepare for them?
Prepping for rainfall
Heavy rainfall at any time of year can be a blessing or a curse and although plants obviously need a plentiful supply of water, too much can result in some woeful waterlogging.
Drainage in the garden is especially important and can be the key to avoiding drowned plants during April showers.
You can tell a plot is struggling with drainage issues when puddles of water appear and over time, green growth, like algae, appears.
If you are expecting heavy rain, you can help to protect lawns and grassy areas by forking the area thoroughly, enabling water to drain quicker. For weaker plants, it may be best to move them into a more sheltered location, as to avoid heavy rains which could damage the foliage and stems.
For slow-draining soils, like clay, try incorporating a horticultural grit or gravel, alongside an organic matter, which will boost the microorganisms and the nutrient count of the soil while also aiding water reduction. To do this, break up the soil with a spade and mix in the grit, gravel or compost as you go, making sure to wear a sturdy pair of gloves, like the planet friendly biodegradable liner and coating SHOWA 4552, will protect your hands, feel lightweight and make easy work while you simultaneously handling the gravel and spade.
Bog gardens are a great example of making the most of a permanently wet garden and are extremely beneficial to wildlife. My favourite selection of bog-garden plants includes Aruncus, dazzling red Cornus alba, Iris ensata (Japanese water iris), golden Primula florindae (giant cowslip) and the glossy Lysichiton americanus. When planting these, consider wearing a pair of ergonomic highly flexible SHOWA 477 gloves. These provide long lasting grip with an insulated liner that protects from the cold and wet conditions for additional comfort. A bog garden will need to be kept moist all year round, so once the April showers have passed, ensure it still receives a constant supply of moisture.
A shower of flowers
The phrase ‘April showers brings May flowers’ may well be true, as heavy rainfall can bring that much needed water to plants that will soon require it during the summer months. May-time plants that will be looking forward to this include vibrant Bergenia purpurascens, beardless iris and stunning Erythronium dens-canis (dog’s tooth violets). Take a look at my top flowering plants for colour in May to discover what else can benefit from some April precipitation.
Harvest the rain
Make the most of this wet season by investing in water conservation—a nifty gift nature provides us free of charge! If you’re not sure where to start, then look no further than a water-butt, which can be easily installed to collect valuable rain water. Many plants, like orchids and rhododendrons do not like tap water due to the effect hard water has on the roots and instead do best with rain water in order to thrive. In fact, rhododendrons love rainwater so much, there is actually a variety called ‘April showers’. This supply of water can also be used on thirsty plants inside or outside the house and it may even save you money on your water bills!
Water butts are available at most garden centres and can be made from plastic or even traditional wooden barrels. If you are thinking of rejuvenating an old container or water-butt, you may want to give it a good clean before the April showers descend upon us—this will help to prevent a build-up of algae, scum and help to keep unpleasant odours at bay. Liquid and tablet cleaning products containing a biodegradable seaweed are available and work by restoring the natural balance of the water. Don a pair of SHOWA 730 waterproof, anatomical gloves when applying these solutions to keep your hands free from cleaning chemicals and water while absorbing perspiration.
With a pair of sturdy waterproof gloves at hand and the will to make the most of it raining cats and dogs, you will be able to master the spring-time garden and say goodbye to April-shower slumps while protecting your wrists.