starting the amaryllis

end of November

After about 10 days the amaryllis have green shoots starting. Also, below on the right, is an amethyst hyacinth vase I bought recently so had to get another bulb for it. The boxes of prepared hyacinth bulbs at the garden centre are looking pretty depleted, and most of the bulbs left are a bit soft and have green shoots. I think I found one of the better ones, with only the tiniest shoot, in the Jan Bos box but who knows if it really is that as the bulbs get mixed up. There's space on the window sill for a cat between the cat grass (Victor below) but once the hyacinth vases start coming up from the cellar every bit of space on the window sill will be taken up.

early November

3 amaryllis vases with enormous bulb (no shoots yet), I don't think I've ever had such large bulbs. The vase on the right is from Ikea. I think I had 3 at one time, 2 broke. I had some other good ones - like large hyacinth vases but they each got broken. The red one in the middle seems to be the most stable but the amaryllis bulb hardly fits in it this year.

amaryllis vases

At this time of year when I start taking lots of pics of vases on this windowsill I am reminded I need to clean it up! and get the ladder out and do the windws from outside.


Going near a garden centre this time of year is dangerous for me. I just wanted 2 hyacinth bulbs for these new cobalt blue vases and I came home with all this!

The stocks of prepared bulbs are limited now. All the white pearl hyacinth bulbs were not as firm as they might be and they all seemed to have bulblets. I would ordinarily remove the bulblets before starting the hyacinths but I thought I could see how long it takes for the bulblets to reach flowering - how many years. I didn't really think it through because when I got the bulbs home and went to put them in the vases they wouldn't fit and while deciding on the strategy of growing the bulblets I had gone a bit mad and bought 8 bulbs rather than the 2 I needed.

white pearl hyacinth vases

I presume the bulblets will grow through the compost and reach the light.

white pearl hyacinth bulbs in pots

I usually think I won't do amaryllis as they are rather expensive but then I see those huge bulbs and can't resist. They look massive in those vases. The clear vase I bought a few years ago as an amaryllis vase. It came in a box with a bulb. The red one I bought recently on ebay. It's the most stable amaryllis vase I've used.

While I was there I thought I might as well get some large Dutch crocus for my crocus bowl. The small species crocus I had were too small and would have fallen through. AND while I was there I couldn't resist having another go with anemones. I had that Harmony Orchid anemone self-seeding (see gardenwithoutdoors) and was impressed and I love those and ranunculus which the pack said they do well with.

end of October/ beginning of November

I checked on some of the bulb "pots" in the cellar today. I find watering things in the cellar a real pain. I can't see things well, I only have a watering can as a source of water which I have to carry in with me and there's no surface to put things down. I've topped up some of the vases as necessary. For some reason the purple vase had no water at all! I must have missed that one. Most of the vases have well-developed roots.

crocus vases with crocus bulbs

A motley assortment of pots with bulbs. I removed the top of the center bottom which was one stiff piece of bulb fibre and tried to put some compost on the hyacinth pushing out of the pot. I don't know what that very long seedling bottom right is. It was desperately trying to get some sun.

bulb pots with bulbs

the tins with the hyacinth bulbs below seem to be rather dry but also have mould - quite annoying

golden syrup tins with hyacinth bulbs

I bought 1 hyacinth bulb yesterday for a new Hornsea bulb pot (Cirrus design) with Socks on the window sill and Polly Pocket on the table

Hornsea bulb pot

here are some dried bulbs from last year that I am trying to bring back to life

these show how determined hyacinth bulbs are to grow -that's what makes hyacinths so good for forcing, they will grow no matter what

strange things happening at the garden centre

I was surprised to find Skyline prepared hyacinth bulbs at the garden centre today. I never even heard of this variety. I've looked through a number of bulb catalogues and ordered from half a dozen web sites, none of them had Skyline! I guess others haven't heard of this either as the bin was almost full and the Delft Blue bin was almost empty. I had no choice but to try  Skyline as I have a couple new hyacinth vases needing bulbs. The bulbs do look large and reasonably fresh and unblemished.

skyline hyacinth bulbs and vases

The green vase on the left (above) has a bulb I put in a couple weeks ago. The roots are looking great. This "pinched" or "dimpled" hyacinth vase (below) is like the ones being sold at the garden centre for £1.49. See more on vase prices at the Hyacinth Vases on ebay page.

I use anything I fancy to force a hyacinth, just needs to hold the bulb above the water, this is a rose bowl with some polished stones in to help the roots to anchor

I had 4 of these hyacinth Skyline bulbs left so planted them in these golden syrup tins, then into the cellar.

I bought this vase the other day - tall antique glass, bit wonky and lopsided - exquisite! just the sort of hyacinth vase I love.

trying to organise more bulbs

I've been trying to organise more bulb forcing - but I'm doing it in the garden so this is one of those times when the garden outdoors meets the garden indoors. Some of the pots I am leaving outside as the bulbs (eg narcissus and muscari) did better there than inside last year.

I always use fresh bulbs for forcing. They need that extra energy. I try to plant the spent bulbs in the garden but it can be difficult if the ground is frozen and I don't have room, especially with the long roots on the bulb which requires a lot of digging to make room for them.  These are some bulbs that were left in the syrup tins which I used as pots last year. Even though they are dried out some life is left in them - green shoots and green on the bulb. I am going to attempt to bring them back to life. It does show how bulbs want to grow, especially hyacinths.

there are green shoots on the hyacinth and muscari bulblets

the muscari bulbs have a lot of bulblets

muscari bulbs

I have planted all the bulblets in fresh compost

muscari bulblets

after a disappointing season last year I decided not to do the large Dutch crocus but I had some of the larger species crocus which will probably work in these vases so I'll give them a try. I find the crocus need the water in the vase right up to the bulb to spur it into action. They aren't as cooperative as hyacinths!

starting all the hyacinth bulbs

the bulb bowls are not very forgiving of bulb defects - the bulbs are all on display whereas imperfections are not so visible if the bulb is in the cup of a hyacinth vase

bulb bowls with hyacinth bulbs

bulb bowl with hyacinth bulbs

bulb bowl with hyacinth bulbs

only this bulb bowl is large enough to hold 5 bulbs, the others are too small and the bulbs are too big

bulb bowl with hyacinth bulbs

bulb bowl with hyacinth bulbs

I received the remaining bulb orders a couple days ago so was able to spend yesterday (after it stopped raining) putting them in vases, filling the vases with water (to just below the bulb) and putting them in the cellar.  

hyacinth vases and bulbs

one of my special animal friends came in the back door to see what I was doing

after choosing which hyacinth variety to go in each vase:

hyacinth vases and bulbs

the new bulbs are looking, at least superficially, better than the ones I received last week, Sky Jacket:

sky jacket hyacinth bulbs

prepared Delft Blue

Delft Blue hyacinth bulbs

comparison of 2 different supplier's Delft Blue hyacinth bulbs

Delft Blue hyacinth bulbs

Splendid Cornelia hyacinth bulbs (unprepared) which I am going to use exactly as I use the prepared bulbs, ie into the cellar for 12-15 weeks, I've done that before and had reasonable results

Splendid Cornelia hyacinth bulbs

Miss Saigon hyacinth bulbs:

Miss Saigon hyacinth bulbs

hyacinth bulbs

Anne Marie hyacinth bulbs:

Anne Marie hyacinth bulbs

start of the forcing season 2015/2016


I received one delivery of prepared hyacinth bulbs this week so still awaiting 3 more. It's difficult to sort out all the vases and which bulbs are going in each if I don't have all the bulbs but I thought I should start the ones I have. Fitzroy (neighbour's cat) keeping me company.

hyacinth bulbs and vases

Some of the Delft Blue bulbs are not looking very good but I'm going to see how they do and see how other supplier bulbs are in case it's common among all this year's bulbs and see if the mould and splitting affects the flowers. One of the Fairy White bulbs was completely rotten, soft and oozing. Surprisingly I've never had such a bulb but as last year I just chose my own from the garden centre bins I could leave one of those behind.

mouldy hyacinth bulbs

I couldn't leave the vases on the table outside for long as the foxes regularly jump up there.

starting hyacinth bulbs in vases


first week of September

I have noted the prepared hyacinths I have on order; still awaiting deliveries. 

Of course, I cannot resist the odd impulse purchase. I have tried a few bulb items from Sainsbury's in the past so wanted to see what this year's bulbs were like. They don't even tell you the variety on the packs so these are certainly for the casual gardener. Still unsure if these are going in garden indoors or outdoors. Last year the daffodils did better and earlier outside than inside, same with the crocus. I'll certainly put them in pots even if they are outdoors. The hyacinths I will probably use in pots/containers some indoors and some outdoors.

indoor bulbs blooming outside, end of 2014/2015 forcing season

these tete-a-tete daffodils were inside but no sign of buds, after a few weeks outdoors they are blooming - well after the daffs that were outside from day 1 finished and here's a hyacinth on a plant that was blooming indoors weeks ago, now having an unexpected second flush of flowers

these crocus were some of my indoor bulbs now blooming outside, I thought they were finished and I discovered they were still blooming

Sevres bulb pot at the Art of the Garden exhibit

I went to the Painting Paradise: The Art of the Garden exhibit at the Queens Gallery earlier this week where I saw this Sevres bulb pot. I'm always interested to see how bulbs are grown indoors.

Sevres bulb pot

when the garden indoors meets the garden outdoors

at this time of year there's some overlap with bulbs indoors and bulbs outdoors

this little pot I had planted with crocus was inside, I put it outside when all the crocus appeared to be spent but at the end of March I see this crocus is blooming in the pot outside

early spring crocus

this pot of muscari was outside but I've brought it inside for a bit of colour after all the other bulbs indoors are finished


these tulips have been outside but when I brought them inside recently they burst into bloom, certainly better than the tulips I had in the truffle bottles inside (after a period in the cellar) that never bloomed properly, these are Van Tubergen's miniature tulips from Sainsburys - seem as good as the bulbs from the garden centre

the non-blooming tulip bulbs in the truffle bottles, below

The golden syrup tin on the right and the squirrel planter to the right of that have tete-a-tete daffodils and have been indoors since I planted them up last autumn, none of which are showing any buds whereas the pots to the left and in bloom and looking fabulous have been outside since being planted up with tete-a-tete daffodils last autumn.

Muscari in bloom having been outside since last autumn.

the muscari in the cat pot were supposed to be forced indoors but after period in the cellar I had to put it outside with such extensive leaf growth

still waiting for any buds on the muscari in the M+S jug


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