April is the real month of autumn when the trees put on their spectacle of coloured leaves.

Although we are approaching the end of the growing season for summer fruit, vegetables and flowers, we still have time to prepare the ground for the autumn planting of trees and shrubs.

This is a busy month for bulb planting and for winter annuals such as pansies, violas, polyanthus, primulas, wall flowers, forget-me-nots and poppies.

Autumn flowering perennials like chrysanthemums and perennial asters will be in full bloom. Once they are finished they can be cut back by 2/3 thirds, as we do for the dahlias and lilies.

Now is the time to have a good clean up of all the garden areas removing weeds, fallen leaves and any plants that have died or are not in good condition.

The compost bin that has mature compost ready can be emptied so that all the plant residue and fallen leaves can then be made into new compost ready for the spring.

The cooler temperatures and the dewy mornings make the grass grow quickly. As the soil is still warm it is a good time to sow new lawns and repair damaged areas.

Grass grub and moss should be treated before it becomes too cold. Also remember not to cut the grass too low.

Fruit trees can be given clean up treatments for pests and diseases once all the fruit has been harvested.

This year I have seen a lot of the tomato/potato psyllid which has resulted in some disappointing crops on tomatoes and potatoes. Take note of when you first noticed the damage this year and remember to treat the plants a month before (about November), this will help prevent the infestation next season.

Green houses should be given a good clean out after crops have finished, especially if there was any white fly or fungal disease present. This will prevent any carry over to the next season, especially if you want to over-winter frost tender plants.

I like to plant up pots of bulbs and flowers so that I can add colour to areas around pathways and terrace in the winter.

I use large pots (10 litres or more) with a good quality potting mix, and will combine bulbs and annuals. This gives a long display and because they are in sheltered areas close to the house they will bloom earlier than if they were in the garden.

There are a lot of other tasks that need to be attended to during this month making it one of the very busiest times in the garden.

Good Gardening, Michael Coulter

Remember: bring your questions to our monthly AAG meeting, post them on HortTalk or email Michael directly beforehand coultchrys@xtra.co.nz