Gardeing with James Vaughan: Snowdrops will bloom long after this pandemic

James Vaughan


James Vaughan


Gardening with James Vaughan: The first snowdrop

Snowdrops are usually the first bulb to flower in January

I was out in the garden last weekend looking for snowdrops which I had planted in previous years. As expected, I could see hundreds of them popping just above the surface. I would expect these snowdrops to be in full bloom in about two or three weeks.

Seeing the snowdrops emerge has reminded me of the recurring cycles of nature. Snowdrops, and many other flowers will bloom and continue to bloom year after year long after this pandemic. I see this as a sign of hope that things will one day return to normal.

I also see gardening as a great coping mechanism for many people during this current pandemic. We are currently restricted in how far we can travel. One way to get out and about is in our gardens. In our own gardens we are out in the fresh air, getting some exercise.

It is also a chance, perhaps, to have a socially distanced chat with a neighbour. We can plant bulbs and shrubs which, with the promise of flowers to come, give us hope and a sense of satisfaction.

Planting during the pandemic

Because we are spending more time in our gardens it shows us how much potential they have. Whether its installing a patio or seating area, the possibilities are boundless. If you are new to gardening, then my advice is to start small. Start with a couple of window boxes and tubs. Into these you can plant seasonal flowers and bulbs.

If you wish for a more permanent display you can choose some shrubs- either evergreen or deciduous. Another easy start is to try and grow your own summer vegetables.

All you need are a few basics – some compost, a seed tray, veg seeds and a well-lit windowsill. Something like onions are easily started this way. Just place the compost into the seed tray- or any container like a cleaned out butter or yogurt tub – sow the seeds on top and water. Place the seed tray inside on a sunny windowsill.

Ensure that there are drainage holes punched into the bottom of any container. This prevents to seedlings from becoming waterlogged by too much watering. Use the lid of the tub as a sort of saucer to catch any excess water running through the drainage holes. You don’t want excess water leaking onto your lovely painted windowsills !

Feeding Birds

We have already been feeding the birds in our garden for several winters. We do this for several reasons. Firstly, its nice to see and hear the birds in the garden as they flitter around. This is particularly true of the songbirds. Thrushes and blackbirds visit our feeders and reward us with beautiful song all spring and summer.

Secondly, if you feed the birds during the winter then they will stick around in the spring and summer.

They will build their nests nearby and then find all the caterpillars, slugs, snails and greenfly they can find in your garden to feed their young chicks.

For several years now we have had very minimum damage cause to shrubs from slugs and snails. What I find are lots and lots of smashed snail shells which have been smashed by the thrushes and blackbirds.