April is the fourth month of the year in the Gregorian Calendar and is one of four months to have 30 days. There is uncertainty of how this month got its name, it may come from Roman word 'Aprilis' meaning 'to open'. April is the month when buds begin to open and things start to grow again after the winter.
Nothing heralds the arrival of Spring more than the familiar call of the cuckoo, as it makes its way back from Africa. The first male common cuckoos arrive in Europe in mid-April. The call of the Cuckoo is known to all, but the well known 'cuck-oo' is only given by the male. The female has more of a bubbling chuckle. Often Cuckoos are mistaken for a Kestrel or a Sparrow-hawk because of its long, pointed wings and tail, and grey-flecked under parts.
The Cuckoo is a brood parasite, it lays its eggs in other birds nests and leaves the host birds to incubate and rear its young. The cuckoo’s favoured 'foster parent' include pipits, reed warblers, dunnocks and robins. When the cuckoo chicks hatch, it instinctively pushes the other eggs and nestlings out of the nest, and is then fed all the food brought back by the unsuspecting foster parents.
From hearing the first Cuckoo call, to seeing pretty Spring flowers.
The Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis) is an elegant flower. So-called because it flowers at the same time as the cuckoo starts to call, it is also called Lady's Smock or Milkmaids. It is also sometimes called Lucy, Shoes and Stockings, Gilliflower, Apple Pie - which refers to the smell of the flowers, and many others. The flowers were often used in bridal bouquets - but never in the month of May when it was thought to be unlucky.
It appears in spring and has clusters of pale pink - almost lilac flowers - each with four petals. It can be found in moist or wet habitats, including damp grasslands, roadsides, ditches and river banks. The plant is easily cultivated in the garden and is one of the main food-plants of the Orange-tip butterfly.
The lower leaves resemble watercress leaves. Both the leaves and flowers are edible, its a rich source of Vitamin C. The Cuckooflower has a traditional use as an ingredient of Easter Pudding. The leaves of young shoots can be eaten raw or cooked. The Cuckooflower was at one time a popular spring salad plant and has a pungent cress-like flavour.
St George's Day is celebrated on 23rd April each year.
St. George is the patron saint of England. According to legend, he was a soldier in the Roman army who killed a dragon and saved a princess.
It is thought that St George was a cavalry soldier in the Roman army from the 3rd century AD - about 1,800 years ago. His emblem was a red cross on a white background and is the flag of England. The emblem was adopted by Richard The Lion Heart and brought to England in the 12th century. By tradition, a red rose should be worn in the button hole on St George's day. As the national flower of England, the rose is a symbol of patriotic pride.
Read more on St. George's Day
The April flower is the Sweet pea - Lathyrus odoratus
The scent from sweet peas is divine. Their ruffled blooms look like little butterflies all aflutter. English gardeners call sweet peas 'the Queen of Annuals'. These charming annuals are unique among garden flowers with their vivid colours, fragrance, and length of bloom in the garden. They are quite at home in a Cottage garden, let them scramble up wigwams and obelisks.
Sweet Peas are excellent in a cutting garden, ensuring a bounty of flowers to enjoy indoors. When the first flowers appear, start cutting flowering stems for your indoor bouquets. In addition to adding the sweet perfume in the home, you’re encouraging the plant to produce more flowers. Cut the stems every other day, early in the morning when they are the freshest.
There was a time when the breeders of sweet peas concentrated on size, colour and vigour at the expense of the scent, but many of the old varieties are now popular again. The flowers may be smaller but their scent is powerful! Grow the single varieties that are known to be highly scented or look out for 'Old-fashioned' and 'Heirloom' mixtures.
Lathyrus odoratus 'Cupani' is the oldest cultivated Sweet pea. It is popular again due to its gorgeous rich colouring of deep-violet blue and dark magenta-purple, and also for its very powerful scent. This Sweet pea was named after the Sicilian monk - Francis Cupani, who introduced it Britain in 1699.
The Full Moon is given a name each month representative of the season. It is not uncommon for a particular moon to have multiple names. These special monthly names for the full moons go back to ancient cultures, who tied the full moons to hunting, weather, planting and harvesting cycles of the year.
Celtic and Medieval Moon names for the April moon included, the Growing Moon, Budding moon, and New Shoots Moon. Native American Tribes names - Egg Moon, Pink Moon, Awakening Moon. The Pink Moon, acknowledges the blooms of wild ground phlox, which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring.
The Chinese people have beautiful and ancient names for their Moons, April is the Peony Moon.
The Moon can sometimes be seen in the daytime sky and sometimes in the night time sky. The moon rises and sets just like the sun does.
Is the moon tired? she looks so pale
Within her misty veil:
She scales the sky from east to west,
And takes no rest.
Before the coming of the night
The moon shows papery white;
Before the dawning of the day
She fades away.
From Sing-Song by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)