IN THE GARDEN: Plants that make you smile

The garden really comes to life in April and there are a lot of tasks to do.

Making the most of the longer days is a bonus and, provided the weather stays good, it can be a brilliant month of gardening.

In addition to dead spring bulbs, now is the time to plant, so why not think of a new addition or two to your garden that will really make you happy.

A survey at the Chelsea Flower Show has identified the top three UK plants that are most likely to put a smile on your face – lily of the valley, sugar snap pea and jasmine – so they can make great additions to your garden this year .

Lily of the Valley – can be planted in borders or under a tree and they are very low maintenance and easy to grow. They make a good ground cover for shady places and are beautifully fragrant with creamy white, bell-shaped flowers.

Sweet Pea – available in a wide variety of bright and pastel colors with frilly, delicate and often fragrant flower heads. They do well in a sunny or partially shaded area in fertile, well-drained soil.

Climbing Jasmine – can be very fragrant, with varieties blooming in summer and winter. All produce pretty flowers and are fairly easy to grow against walls or trellises.

If you want to make the kids happy, there are fun options to plant, such as sunflowers, instant dragons, and the Four O’Clock flower.

The sunflower is a real family favourite. If you look at a sunflower, you can’t help but smile. Not only does it remind us of the sun, but its head will follow the sun across the sky, and wherever the light is a sunflower will find it.

Snapdragons are awesome because they come in a variety of colors and sizes, and you can also pinch the flowers so they open and close like a dragon’s mouth. Snapdragon flowers are specially designed for bumblebees, which have just enough weight to trigger the flower’s lower lip opening mechanism to access nectar.

The Four O’Clock flower, also known as the Wonder of Peru, is a bushy plant with trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of pink, yellow or white. The fragrant flowers only bloom in the late afternoon, around four o’clock, so good for telling the time.

If you grow your own vegetables, now is a good time to start sowing tomatoes, so you can enjoy them all summer long.

To grow tomatoes successfully, you need rich, fertile soil or peat-free potting mix, and a good, sunny, sheltered spot. Water regularly and feed regularly once the plants begin to flower.

Tomatoes are divided into two main types of cultivation – bush and cordon. Bush types are usually planted in containers and their stems trail around the edge.

Cord types are trained to grow and are supported by a cane or stake and will require pinching. It is best to grow tomatoes from seeds under cover, in seed trays, then when the seedlings reach 2-3 cm in height, transplant them into small 5 cm pots. Continue to repot as they grow. They can be planted outdoors with cane supports once the last frosts have passed, so around May.

For best results, choose trusted varieties like Gardener’s Delight, Money Maker, or Sweet Olive.

As usual, April really kicks off gardening season.

As the RHS says… Spring is finally in evidence as daffodils and flowering trees begin to bloom. Expect the inevitable April showers this month, but with sunny days too, when you can concentrate on the lawn.

It’s an exciting month, with seeds sown indoors well advanced, and it’s time to start sowing outdoors as well. Just watch out for the frosts.

The three main tasks this month: sow hardy annuals, herbs and wildflower seeds outdoors; protect fruit blossoms from late frosts; and attach climbing and climbing roses.