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Woman who kept toddler, 2, in cage and also tried to sell child for £1million found dead

A woman who had kept a child in a cot cage and was caught trying to sell the same baby for £1million amongst other child neglect convictions has been found dead in her home. Officers who attended Claire Boyle’s home on Thursday, April 4 at 7am on Main Street in Ochiltree, East Ayrshire, found her body. The woman in her late 30s had a long list of previous convictions for child neglect. In February 2021, Kilmarnock Sheriff Court heard she neglected a four-year-old child so badly doctors feared he had blood cancer or a blood clotting disorder. The child was only discovered after he escaped through a six-inch gap between the frame and pane and dropped four feet to the ground, the child, who was covered in bruises. The child was only wearing pyjamas and was found wandering the street in the rain. After police were contacted they went to the home Ms Boyle shared with her partner, Timothy Johnstone, who was 23 years her senior. When they arrived at the property in Newmilns, East Ayrshire, the investigating officers found a two-year-old child being kept in a home-made cage. The base of a cot had been removed and secured to the top with belts from dressing gowns, meaning a child could not escape once inside. After a lengthy trial, both Ms Boyle and Mr Johnstone, 60, who denied child neglect were found guilty. However, the pair were spared jail and Ms Boyle was ordered to complete 250 hours of unpaid work. Despite her two child neglect cases and being spared jail Ms Boyle was allowed to look after the kids. In 2014, at Ayr Sheriff Court, she was given a Community Payback Order for being found comatose on a couch, through drink or drugs, with a distressed baby at her feet. At the same court, also in 2014, she was given another Community Payback Order after being caught trying to sell the same baby for £1million on Ayr High Street. She also shook the boy, shouted at him, and abandoned him in a “damp and draughty” close in the seaside town. Boyle, who was originally from Dumfries and Galloway, also had a number of live court cases. With two cases heard at Ayr Sheriff Court in February this year, Ms Boyle was due in the dock again at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court in June over two further prosecutions. Ms Boyle also went unpunished last year after attacking a police officer and breaching bail conditions. Kilmarnock Sheriff Court heard she kicked a female officer and tried to head butt her while being arrested for failing to sign in at a police station. Whilst she could have been jailed for upto 18 months for such offences, Ms Boyle was placed on a Community Payback Order and told she would be supervised by social workers for 18 months. Ms Boyle claimed that she couldn’t attend signing on at the police station because she was fleeing her home after her partner in crime turned on her. Defence solicitor Brian Holliman said she had to move to escape Mr Johnstone after they were spared jail for child neglect. Mr Holliman told the court: “She was fleeing an abusive relationship. She left that relationship in October [2022]. On several occasions she was reported as a missing or vulnerable person by her partner, Mr Johnstone. She is located by police officers and can behave badly towards them.” He said she drank to excess to cope and had been drunk when officers arrived at the property in Galston, East Ayrshire, on April 17 last year to arrest her. She shouted “no, no no” as the officers tried to detain her where she resisted arrest, and threw a head butt. They restrained her and she lashed out, kicking one of them on the stomach. Her bail conditions required her to sign in at a police station but she failed to do so on March 31 last year, leading to officers going to her then-home in April to arrest her. A scotland>Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 7am on Thursday, April 4, 2024, police were called to a property in the Main Street area of Ochiltree, following the sudden death of a woman. “There are not believed to be any suspicious circumstances and a report was submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.”

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Danny Murphy hopes to win Arsenal fans back over with Martin Odegaard comments

Danny Murphy has lavished praise on Martin Odegaard after getting stick for effectively ruling Arsenal out of the Premier League title race. The Gunners produced a fantastic controlled performance to beat Brighton 3-0 on Saturday night and go top of the league. Bukayo Saka’s penalty, Kai Havertz’s tap-in and Leandro Trossard’s dinked finish on the counter-attack secured a vital three points for Arsenal ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Old Trafford on Sunday. Brighton had not lost at home in the league since August, but were thoroughly outclassed by Mikel Arteta’s side, who have now kept five successive clean sheets on the road. They look every bit the title contenders as they chase a Premier League trophy in 20 years. Their win came after Murphy said Arsenal wouldn’t get over the line due to their tricky fixtures – one of which they’ve now won. His comments irritated Arsenal fans, who are in awe of their team’s resilience and quality, so they will have been amused to see Murphy’s comments about Odegaard’s performance at Brighton. “He set the tone for a hugely impressive win and I can’t pay him a higher compliment than saying his captaincy reminds me of the way David Beckham led the England team I was part of,” Murphy wrote for the Daily Mail. The former Liverpool midfielder thinks Odegaard has a similar lower key leadership style which commands respect through professionalism and his high level. Of his display on Saturday, he added: “His movement was non-stop but in addition to that the technical levels were so high with the ball, there was always this link between the Arsenal midfield and attack. Quite simply, Odegaard is at the top of his game at the moment. He is incredibly disciplined and available every week, another reason I think why Arteta anointed him as the official leader.” To be fair to Murphy, he wasn’t just complimentary about Odegaard and suggested Arsenal would be his second choice to win the title, after his former club Liverpool. “An Arsenal title would be good for football,” he wrote. “For the club to take a young, untested manager like Arteta and trust him with money and time to build a project would be a great story. Then again, you could say the same about Jurgen Klopp leaving Anfield as king.” His comments come after the provocative ones on talkSPORT earlier in the week. “This is what we want from a Premier League title race,” he said. “Unless you’re a Man City fan you probably want someone else to win it. “I wanted Arsenal to win it last year, for example. It’s not that I don’t admire Man City, of course I do, it’s a phenomenal team with a great manager. But we need that competition in the Premier League and this is turning into a real ding dong. I don’t think Arsenal will get over the line, just because of the fixtures. They’ve got to go to Tottenham, Old Trafford and Brighton.” Join our new WhatsApp community and receive your daily dose of Mirror Football content. We also treat our community members to special offers, promotions, and adverts from us and our partners. If you don’t like our community, you can check out any time you like. If you’re curious, you can read our Privacy Notice.

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BBC Bargain Hunt’s Izzie Balmer addresses career change as she frankly admits ‘it wasn’t for me

BBC Bargain Hunt’s Izzie Balmer has opened up about her unexpected career path. Reflecting on her journey from music to antiques, the 34-year-old jewellery expert – who has made a name for herself on shows like Bargain Hunt and Flog It! – said of music: “It wasn’t for me.” Izzie once envisioned a life filled with melodies, aiming for a career in music, but her tune changed after attending music college. Speaking to Great British Life, she confessed: “I planned to be a professional musician but didn’t enjoy music college. It wasn’t for me.” Her entry into television was as spontaneous as it gets, with Izzie stepping in for her boss to auctioneer on Bargain Hunt when no other auctioneers were available. “There were no other auctioneers available it had to be me. I had to auction the Bargain Hunt lots in front of the cameras,” Izzie recounted. Growing up in Quarndon, Derby, with her parents Sheila and Toby and younger brother Hugh, it was Izzie’s mother who nudged her towards the world of antiques. Despite graduating from university, she found herself back at home, job hunting and contemplating her next move, reports OK!. After completing a work experience stint at a local auction house, Izzie, a regular on the hit show Antiques Road Trip, landed a full-time role. This ignited her passion for antiques and led her to study at Birmingham’s School of Jewellery. Izzie’s decision to pursue a career in television has proven fruitful, as she has amassed a dedicated fan base, with a Facebook group named the Izzie Balmer Appreciation Society created in her honour. In a 2019 interview with Bristol Post, she revealed: “I kind of fell into this job but I absolutely love it. I have always loved jewellery and been a fan of sparkly things, like most girls. I cannot think of anything I would rather do.” Last month, Bargain Hunt lived up to its name as a team uncovered a “hidden gem” and made quite the profit on the BBC show. The duo making a whopping profit on their item left antiques expert Raj Bisram in shock. Nathalie and Karl – who were part of the red team competing against Adam and Jemma on the blue team – had been tasked with finding a profitable fashion accessory while the blue team were given the challenge to find and make a profit on an item with a Chinese theme. Both teams managed to find two items in just 20 minutes, leaving them 40 minutes to decide on their final purchase. Antique guru Raj, 68, was amazed by their quickness, exclaiming: “This is probably one of the easiest teams I’ve ever had. Twenty mins down, two items. It’s a walk in the park what else can I say.” Even though Natalie and Karl bought a Swedish vase for £15, they seemed to have their sights set on a more valuable item based on their next purchase. They then splashed out £130 for a 1970s vintage Omega gentleman’s watch. To finish off their shopping spree, they also bought a Clarice Cliff mustard pot for £20, even though it didn’t come with a lid. Meanwhile, Adam and Jemma’s main buy was a military periscope which cost them £80. When Tim saw the Omega watch, he joyfully called it the “height of fashion”, as Nathalie and Karl doubled their investment to earn £260 from their original £130 purchase. Eric noted: “You doubled your money. Bought for £130, sold for £260. Good stuff, eh?” After selling off these items, Raj revealed their Bonus Buy – a set of bowls that bumped up Nathalie and Karl’s earnings by another £16. This saw them accumulate an impressive £165 worth of profit by the time the show came to an end. Follow Mirror Celebs on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Threads.

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74-year-old John Force races to record 156th NHRA victory and 1st in 2 years

CHANDLER, Ariz. (AP) — John Force raced to his record 156th NHRA victory and first in two years, with the 74-year-old Funny Car great powering past Matt Hagan on Saturday at Firebird Motorsports Park in the completion of the postponed Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals. Force had a 4.033-second run at 318.24 mph in his Chevrolet Camaro SS for his eighth victory in the event postponed two weeks ago at Pomona in California. “I’m just facing the truth in life, that, you know, time’s running out, and I’m trying to hang on,” Force said. “This morning, I was talking about, ‘You know, maybe this is it, maybe I should just walk out the gate and go to the casino.’ “And then all of sudden you win and your weight and your personality just changes. Things went right, and I got the win, so I’m excited.” Justin Ashley won in Top Fuel and Dallas Glenn in Pro Stock in the other divisions from Pomona. In the Arizona event, Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Austin Prock (Funny Car) and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) topped qualfying, and Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), J.R. Todd (Funny Car) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock) won the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge specialty races. ___ AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing

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A Dubai company’s staggering land deals in Africa raise fears about risks to Indigenous livelihoods

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Matthew Walley’s eyes sweep over the large forest that has sustained his Indigenous community in Liberia for generations. Even as the morning sun casts a golden hue over the canopy, a sense of unease lingers. Their use of the land is being threatened, and they have organized to resist the possibility of losing their livelihood. In the past year, the Liberian government has agreed to sell about 10% of the West African country’s land — equivalent to 10,931 square kilometers (4,220 square miles) — to Dubai-based company Blue Carbon to preserve forests that might otherwise be logged and used for farming, the primary livelihood for many communities. Blue Carbon, which did not respond to repeated emails and calls seeking comment, plans to make money from this conservation by selling carbon credits to polluters to offset their emissions as they burn fossil fuels. Some experts argue that the model offers little climate benefit, while activists label it “carbon colonialism.” Activists say the government has no legal right over the land and that Liberian law acknowledges Indigenous land ownership. The government and Blue Carbon reached an agreement in March 2023 — months after the company’s launch — without consulting local communities, which are concerned about a lack of protections. “There is no legal framework on carbon credits in Liberia, and so we don’t have rules and regulations to fight for ourselves as a community,” said Walley, whose community, Neezuin, could see about 573 square kilometers signed away to Blue Carbon. A raft of agreements between at least five African countries and Blue Carbon could give the company control over large swaths of land on the continent. In Kenya, Indigenous populations already have been evicted to make way for other carbon credits projects, according to rights groups like Amnesty International and Survival International. They have criticized the projects as “culturally destructive,” lacking transparency and threatening the livelihoods and food security of rural African populations. “Many such projects are associated with appalling human rights abuses against local communities at the hands of park rangers,” said Simon Counsell, an independent researcher of conservation projects in Kenya, Congo, Cameroon and other countries. “The majority had involved evictions, most were involved in conflict with local people, and almost none had ever sought or gained the landholders’ consent,” said Counsell, former director of Rainforest Foundation UK, a nonprofit that supports both human rights and environmental protection. Africa contributes the least to greenhouse gas emissions, but its vast natural resources, such as forests, are crucial in the fight against climate change. Indigenous populations traditionally rely on forests for their livelihoods, highlighting the tension between climate goals and economic realities. Cash-strapped governments in Africa are attracted to these kinds of conservation initiatives because they generate badly needed income despite concerns about human rights abuses and transparency. Blue Carbon has only one project under development in Zimbabwe, which involves approximately 20% of the country’s land, according to the company’s website. However, through opaque agreements, the company has potentially secured staggering amounts of land across other countries, including Kenya, Liberia, Tanzania and Zambia, since forming in late 2022. In Liberia, the government is required to obtain prior, informed consent from communities before using their land for such deals. However, former President George Weah’s government moved forward without it, according to activists and communities. Communities only became aware after activists mobilized against the deal following a leak through a network of nongovernmental organizations. Although the agreement said talks with communities would be done last November, locals and activists reported that they did not happen. “There is no opposition to fighting climate change, but it has to be done in a way that respects people’s rights and does not breach the law,” said Ambulah Mamey, a Liberian activist who has helped galvanize opposition to the Blue Carbon deal. After protests from communities and activists, Weah’s government halted the deal before the presidential vote last year, but he still lost the election. “We resolved to vote the George Weah government out to stop the deal, which will devastatingly affect communities, but we don’t know if the new government will restart it,” said Walley, the community leader. “We are waiting for them.” The new director of Liberia’s Environmental Protection Agency, Emmanuel Yarkpawolo, said the Blue Carbon deal was rushed through “a quick process that does not lend itself to a good level of transparency.” He confirmed the deal is on hold and said Liberia is now developing rules for selling carbon credits, which will “emphasize balance between environmental goals and economic well-being of our people and take care of concerns about Indigenous people’s rights, including alternative livelihood means.” Blue Carbon in March sent out invitations to developers, asking for proposals for carbon offset projects. The company document, which activists shared with The Associated Press, does not say which countries it is targeting, just that basic land information will be shared with applicants. The process seems “extraordinarily opaque” given the significant amount of some countries’ land involved, said Counsell, the conservation researcher. He raised concerns about whether governments understand it, let alone the people living in those areas. “They are precisely the kind of opaque and inequitable arrangements that the U.N. should very specifically be guarding against as it continues to develop the rules for a global carbon market,” Counsell said in an email. Blue Carbon was founded by Emirati royal Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, whose private holdings include fossil fuel operations. It has not disclosed the governments or companies that will buy the credits generated from its carbon projects. The effectiveness of carbon offsetting itself is debated. One concern is the concept of “additionality,” or the amount of carbon that a project claims it reduces through preventing deforestation. In many cases, it’s possible those reductions could have happened anyway. A study by Counsell and Survival International on one carbon credit initiative, called the Northern Kenya Grassland Carbon Project, says livestock farmers whose livelihoods were upended by the project had operated within “broadly sustainable limits.” This, Walley said, is similar to the practice of communities in Liberia, where they have a duty to conserve forests under government rules. In addition, 40% of Liberia’s forestland is already protected. “This means that the project, in climate terms, has no ‘additionality,’ and any carbon credits generated do not represent genuine new savings of carbon,” Counsell said. Plus, over time, trees release the carbon they’re storing back into the atmosphere through natural aging, forest fires or commercial use, which undermines the idea of forests absorbing carbon permanently, Counsell said. There is also the problem of a “zero” benefit to the climate. Protecting forests in one area may result in deforestation elsewhere as communities affected by conservation projects move to earn a living. ___ The Associated Press’ climate and environmental coverage receives financial support from multiple private foundations. AP is solely responsible for all content. Find AP’s standards for working with philanthropies, a list of supporters and funded coverage areas at AP.org.

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Verstappen bounces back with dominant win at Japanese Grand Prix

SUZUKA, Japan (AP) — Max Verstappen’s record-breaking dominance in Formula 1 resumed Sunday with his victory in the Japanese Grand Prix, leading almost the entire race on a sunny day in central Japan. His abrupt breakdown two weeks ago in Melbourne, Australia, looks like a blip in his total command over F1. He was out on the fourth lap when he rear brakes caught fire. Nothing like that this time. Verstappen basically led from start to finish except for falling back briefly after a pit stop. He was followed across the finish line by Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez — 12.5 seconds behind — and Carlos Sainz of Ferrari. Sainz was 20 seconds off the pace. The three-time defending F1 champion is again this season’s points leader and now has won 22 of the last 26 races dating from the start of the 2023 season. Only two other drivers have won in that span — Red Bull teammate Perez and Sainz, the winner in Australia two weeks ago. “That was a very lovely race,” Verstappen said on the team radio just after crossing the line. A red flag went up just seconds into the tightly packed first lap when Alex Albon and Daniel Ricciardo clipped each other on the second turn and sent both crashing out of the race. Both drivers walked away, apparenly without serious injuries. The restart was delayed 30 minutes to get the cars off the track and clear debris. The race was run under sunny skies in the midst of the cherry blossom season across the Japanese archipelago. The Suzuka track was built by Honda, which powers Red Bull, and is still run by the Japanese car builder. It’s set southwest of Nagoya, Japan’s fourth largest city, in a center of heavy industry. Verstappen, 26, put down rumors early this week that he might leave Red Bull, maybe for Mercedes. “From my side, I’m very happy where I am. And, yeah, we want to keep it that way.” He even hinted at an early retirement. “I have a contract with Red Bull until ’28,” he said. “After that, I first want to see if I actually even want to continue. That’s for me the most important.” ___ AP Formula 1: https://apnews.com/hub/formula-one

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Kempe, Moore get Kings closer to playoff spot with 6-3 victory over Canucks

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Adrian Kempe had two goals and an assist, Trevor Moore reached 30 goals for the first time in his career and the Los Angeles Kings got closer to wrapping up a playoff spot with a 6-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night. Los Angeles moved out of a wild card spot and the into third place in the Pacific Division with five games remaining in the regular season. The Kings have a one-point lead over Vegas and are eight points up on St. Louis, which is still vying for a playoff spot. “We’re excited. I think we’re also kind of paying attention to the standings,” said defenseman Drew Doughty, who had a goal and an assist. “We just want to move up as high as we possibly can. We don’t care who we face. We’re just worrying about ourselves.” Kevin Fiala also had a goal and an assist for Los Angeles, which has won three straight. Alex Laferriere also scored, Anze Kopitar had two assists and Cam Talbot stopped 39 shots. Brock Boeser gpt his 39th goal for Vancouver. The forward is one away from becoming the 10th player in franchise history to reach 40 in a season. Dakota Joshua and Teddy Blueger also scored and J.T. Miller extended his point streak to seven games with an assist. Casey DeSmith made 23 saves. Vancouver leads Edmonton by five points with five games left to play, but the Oilers have two games in hand. The Canucks trail Dallas by three points for the top seed in the Western Conference. “Didn’t give them a lot of stuff, but their conversion rate was great,” coach Rick Tocchet said. “We had some chances. We had a couple breakaways, we had somebody in the high slot if we could connect, and we gave them those freebies early, it’s 2-0.” Kempe opened the scoring 2:48 into the game with a power play goal and then scored short-handed with 2:44 remaining for his fourth two-goal game this season. Moore, who grew up in Thousand Oaks, California, got a pass from Phillip Danault and put a wrist shot into the short side of the net 10:35 into the third period to put the Kings up 5-2. It was Moore’s fourth goal in his last three games after he had a hat trick last Wednesday against Seattle. The Kings converted their first two power-play opportunities on goals by Kempe and Doughty. The one-timer by Doughty midway through the first is the second time in his 16-year career he has reached 15 goals in a season. The defenseman’s career high was 16 during the 2009-10 season. “That was great for the power play. We were not good at all in San Jose, so we needed a bounce back,” interim coach JIm Hiller said. “I didn’t like the shorthanded goal against. They had probably more zone time than we wanted them to have. But having said that, our defense, did a great job in and around our net boxing them out, not a lot of second chances.” Boeser got the Canucks to 2-1 midway through the first when he drove to the net and was able to flick it past Talbot. It was Boeser’s 17th goal in 20 career games against the Kings. Jordan Spence’s one timer from near the blue line deflected off Laferriere’s stick at 2:09 of the second period. Fiala then made it 4-1 six minutes later on a breakaway after he got a stretch pass from Anze Kopitar in the offensive zone. DeSmith made a pad save on the first shot, but Fiala was able to knock in the rebound. Blueger had a short-handed goal with 7:25 remaining in the game. UP NEXT Canucks: Host Vegas on Monday night. Kings: At Anaheim on Tuesday night. ___ AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

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The week’s viral videos: Kangana’s faux pas on India’s first PM, ‘drunk’ foreigner tries to bite Chennai passerby and more

From Kangana Ranaut naming Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as the first Prime Minister of India to a seemingly intoxicated foreigner trying to bite commuters on Chennai’s streets, and even a candid whiskey conversation between Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and a senior advocate, the past week saw several interesting videos going viral. Here’s a look at some of the most captivating ones: Kangana says Subhas Chandra Bose is India’s first PM Ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Bollywood actor-turned-politician Kangana Ranaut sparked controversy when she referred to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose as India’s first Prime Minister. Ranaut was speaking at the Times Now Summit. A video of the incident was circulated across all social media platforms, amassing over 8.5 lakh views on X and drawing criticism from several social media users. Watch it here: Taiwan’s strong earthquake In the early hours of April 3, Taiwan was jolted by an earthquake of 7.2 magnitude. According to reports, around 34 aftershocks were also recorded. Soon after, social media was swamped with scary videos of collapsing buildings, violently shaking skyscrapers, and what not. Collin Rugg, an X user, shared one such video that caught the internet’s attention. The clip garnered more than 19 million views on the platform. ‘Drunk’ foreigner tries to bite commuters A foreigner — reportedly inebriated state — was spotted running shirtless on Chennai roads and attempting to bite a motorcyclist. Shared by a user Pramod Madhav, the video showed the foreigner running to a man on a bike and trying to bite him on the neck. According to reports, the incident took place in the Royapettah area. The video accumulated 14 lakh views on X. A candid whiskey chat with CJI Chandrachud A video of a Supreme Court hearing — which took over social media on April 4 — showed Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and senior advocate Dinesh Dwivedi exchanging a light-hearted conversation about whiskey. “Apologies for my colourful hair. It is because of Holi. This is the disadvantage of having a lot of children and grandchildren around. You can’t save yourself… and I must confess… I am a fan of whiskey,” Dwivedi said in the video. Shared by Law Today on April 2, the video was viewed by over 1.57 lakh users on X. UK PM Sunak’s batting session with England team British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had a batting session with the England cricket team. According to reports, the session was organised at the Oval Cricket Ground in London where he met the England squad. In a video shared by him, Sunak was seen batting alongside James Anderson and others. “Am I ready for the call up @englandcricket?” he wrote on X. These videos dominated social media this week.

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Monty Don names seven gardening jobs you need to do now to get summer ready

Gardening expert Monty Don says gardeners should be starting their outdoor jobs ahead of summer now. Spring has officially sprung so you may have notice the sun starting to peep through the clouds and some of your flowers starting to bloom. As the weather begins to improve, Monty says now is the perfect time to get your garden in good shape ahead of summertime. The horticultiral guru says people should be prioritising planting flowers, feeding birds, and limiting lawn mowing. What’s more, he suggests lifting spring bulbs to save for next year. Writing in his blog, he said: “Even the rain, the endless rain, is less depressing, coming in showers rather than days or downpour. Above all, April glows with rich emerald green of new foliage like the most wonderful stained glass.” READ MORE: ‘Compact’ and ‘spacious’ Ryanair-approved cabin bag flying off the shelves for €12 He continued: “The important thing is to get on top of things. So cut the grass, weed as much as possible, get perennial plants in the ground, finish mulching, sow some seeds – but in a manageable, enjoyable way. Keep it simple. There is still time to spare.” Monty has detailed a number jobs that should be on your gardening to-do list this month – listed below. Mist houseplants Monty says it is important to mist houseplants this month. His insists that a cool spot, out of direct sunlight, is likely to be “more congenial” for all evergreen plants from tropical regions. He suggested getting a mist sprayer which holds at least a litre of water and has a trigger action. If you use this a couple of times a day it will give your plants excellent moisture and help them to thrive. Using a mister does mean that humid air could damage furnishings or surfaces, so Monty suggests placing the plants in a bathroom or kitchen. Limit mowing the lawn The pro says he is “all for mowing as little as possible”, saying that having longer grass is “one of the best environments for a huge diversity of wildlife” in our gardens. He told people to “resist the temptation to scalp your grass down to its midsummer height”, saying when the weather gets warmer the grass starts to grow stronger. Monty Don claims that mowing the lawn in this way “will result in much healthier and greener grass”. Givie bulbs a tidy up Although Monty advises cutting back on the foliage of bulbs which have flowered, he says you can lift them to save for next year. Suggesting how to do so, Monty said: “You can lift the bulbs, foliage, bulb and roots and pot them into a container which can then be put to one (sunny) side to die back and feed next year’s bulb without leaving an unsightly mass of dying foliage in a prime position for the next few months.” When the foliage has died back, the bulbs can be stored in a pot – ensure they do not get too wet and replant them in autumn time. Deadhead rhododendrons and azaleas Monty says one of the most “simple” yet “overlooked” jobs is deadheading Rhododendrons and Azaleads. Doing this job will help extend the life of the plants and ensure they do not waste their energies into seed production. Removing the withered flowers also reduces the risk of fungal infections and also removes unsightly dead flowers that can hang onto the shrub for days or even weeks. Planting sweet peas In a couple of weeks time, Monty says you should add planting sweat peas to your gardening list. He explained that sweet peas grow best in rich soil with plenty of moisture and cool conditions. He also suggests dividing the seeds into two or three pots in a bid to get strong, healthy individual plants. Speaking about his method, Monty said: “I like to grow mine up bean sticks arranged as a wigwam but any support will do from bamboo canes to chicken wire. I plant two or three plants to each stick or support and water them in very well before mulching them thickly to keep them weed-free and to stop them drying out.” Potting lillies Expert Monty says April is the peak time for planting lilies in a bid to get the best, most beautiful flower displays. But it is not as simple as throwing a few bulbs into a pot with soil – lilies thrive in more acidic conditions and like loose compost. “I achieve this by mixing in plenty of leafmould and grit into a bark-based general purpose compost but just adding perlite or vermiculite will help greatly,” Monty explained. He suggested to plant the bulbs in about four inches of compost – above the crown – and put them in a shaded area. Keep watering them until the buds start to show in May and June. Feed birds At this time of year birds will be nesting and laying eggs. He suggests putting out flakes of cheese and breadcrumbs if you do not have any conventional bird food. Have you tried the gardening hacks? Share your thoughts in the comments below. For the latest breaking news and top stories, visit our homepage Join the Irish Mirror’s breaking news service on WhatsApp. Click this link to receive breaking news and the latest headlines direct to your phone. We also treat our community members to special offers, promotions, and adverts from us and our partners. If you don’t like our community, you can check out any time you like. If you’re curious, you can read our Privacy Notice .

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