Garden Thyme: April Showers Bring May Flowers
In 1557 an English poet, Thomas Tusser, in a collection of his works, wrote “Sweet April showers Do spring May flowers”. Hundreds of years later, it is still true that, following the unexpected and frequent rains of April, beautiful flowers grow.
In 1921 Louis Silvers and Buddy De Sylva wrote the music and lyrics to the enduring hit “April Showers”. It has been recorded, in various versions, by many artists throughout the years. The song compares April showers and clouds to the unpleasant and difficult things that happen in people’s lives. It teaches that, with patience, life can be enjoyable again, like the beautiful flowers that bloom in May.
Many people struggle with a wide variety of issues including health, emotional and financial challenges that often seem unsurmountable. Spending time in a natural environment, whether outside or inside the home or in the workplace, has many therapeutic benefits.
Studies have proven that cultivating plants and having flowers and ornamental plants in and around the home and work environment has many benefits including reduction of stress and anxiety. It is also therapeutic for people who have experienced trauma. The studies also demonstrate that living and working in a natural environment:
- Increases happiness
- Improves concentration and memory
- Increases energy and vitality
- Helps children learn better
- Helps patients in hospitals heal faster
- Increases compassion leading to better relationships with others.
Like other commodities, gardening supplies have greatly increased in price making it a challenge for many people to purchase everything needed. Below are ways to grow a garden on a budget:
- Use seeds instead of starts.
- Buy smaller plants.
- Regrow vegetables from kitchen scraps by saving the seeds or roots. This is easy with some items such as peppers, potatoes, garlic, onions, lettuce, celery and carrots.
- Reduce the need to purchase fertilizer by making compost using kitchen scraps and garden waste. Chicken and livestock manure can be added if available.
- Shop sales.
- Save seeds at the end of the season.
- Hold a plant and seed swap.
- Use recycled items.
*Use old items around your home as planters.
*Check garage sales, thrift shops, online shopping sites, etc.
- Build your plant collection with cuttings.
- Reduce the need to purchase chemicals to kill pests by planting plants that attract beneficial insects.
Examples include buckwheat, dara, creeping thyme, fennel, mint, sweet alyssum, Echinacea, dill, rudbeckia, zinnias, yarrow, anise, chamomile, thyme, sage, lemon balm, Queen Anne’s lace, and lavender.
- Split a load of mulch or garden soil with someone.
- Start or join a garden club in your neighborhood to share information and ideas.
To Do In April
- Plant Vegetables
From seeds: beans (bush snap, lima, pole snap), cantaloupe, corn, cucumber, cumin, okra, peas (English, Southern), pumpkin, radish, spinach (Malabar), squash (winter, summer), sunflower, tomato, watermelon
Transplants: chiles, eggplant, garlic chives, ginger (root), oregano, peppers, sweet potato (slip), tomato
- Plant Ornamentals
- Design your outdoor garden space to provide places to sit and enjoy the natural environment. For indoors, be sure to choose plants that are the appropriate size for your space.
- Outdoors: Plant summer annual and perennial flowers, bulbs, succulents, clumping grasses, herbs and other ornamentals. Check seed packets for planting dates. If the date to plant has passed, purchase transplants.
- Indoors: Many indoor plants are not only pleasing to the eye but also purify the air. Plants that are relatively easy to grow indoors include the Peace Lily, Kalanchoe, Anthurium, Christmas Cactus, Amaryllis, Phalaenopsis Orchid, Lipstick Plant, Flowering Maple, Hibiscus, Bromeliad, African Violet, and Cape Primrose. Others include Jade, Aloe Vera, Parsley, Mint, Rosemary, Jasmine, Calamondin Orange, Crown of Thorns, Gloxinia, Geranium, Begonia, Silver Vase Plant, etc.
- Clean up container plants and, if necessary, move to larger containers
- Mow lawn before weeds set seed. Leave clippings on the lawn.
- Fertilize lawn.
- Mulch, but avoid touching the base of trees and roses.
- Deadhead flowering plants.
- Watch for pests and treat promptly.
Life is not a highway strewn with flowers,
Still it holds a goodly share of bliss,
When the sun gives way to April showers,
Here is the point you should never miss.
Though April showers may come your way,
They bring the flowers that bloom in May,
So if it’s raining have no regrets,
Because it isn’t raining rain you know, it’s raining violets.
And where you see clouds upon the hills,
You soon will see crowds of daffodils,
So keep on looking for a bluebird,
And list’ning for his song,
Whenever April showers come along.
FUN FACT: Composed by Louis Silvers and written by B.G. De Sylva, this song debuted in the 1921 Broadway musical Bombo and was performed by Al Jolson.