some new bulb vases to try

I got some new bulb vases on ebay to try. Well, they aren't official "bulb" vases but I'm trying them out as bulb vases. They are quite small so I'm using 2 crocus bulbs and a small tulip bulb. They're just sitting in the other vases to keep them upright.

These are the hooks they came with but I don't think they're going to work for me. With one end in the vase it's in the way of the bulb - and the roots when they eventually grow and extend into the vase.

hanging vases hooks

forcing hyacinths on Gardeners World and more crocus for Christmas

Monty Don actually forcing hyacinths on Gardeners World! (last night, Oct 4th) I don't think they've ever done that, certainly not since I've been watching in recent years.

I ran out of steam with these crocus bulbs so they've been sitting on the table for weeks. My squirrels have disappeared or all the bulbs would have been eaten. I did buy some vases on ebay suitable for crocus bulbs - on impulse - so I thought I should get the crocus bulbs started until the vases arrive in the post (watch this space). I had decided to get rid of these vases to thin my collection but I unpacked them again to use them temporarily.

crocus bulbs in vases

forcing crocus for Christmas

The first crocus I bought were too small to rest on top of the holes of the crocus bowl. They were "snow crocus". I needed some large Dutch crocus instead. I planted the snow crocus in the terracotta pot instead.

how I force hyacinth bulbs for Christmas

First I take all my hyacinth vases out of the cellar. Then I try to decide which colour hyacinth would look best in each vase and note the variety on my list. I stopped here after doing about two thirds so I could fill the vases with water and put them back in the cellar. I make sure not to fill them too high. The bulbs must not be sitting in water or they will rot. I put them back in the cellar (a dark place) for 12 to 15 weeks. Twelve weeks from now takes me up to the end of November, perfect time for the vases to come out of the cellar to have hyacinths in flower for Christmas. If they need a few weeks longer I'll have flowers in January.

hyacinth vases and bulbs

With about a third of the vases left on the table it gives me more room and makes the task a little easier.

hyacinth vases and bulbs

I break off any bulblets before I put the bulb in the vase: 1. it won't develop properly, 2. it will take energy away from the main flower.

hyacinth bulblet

Unfortunately it doesn't show very well but this uranium hyacinth vase was glowing a bit, especially as the sun was going down. I use the plastic box to carry the vases into the cellar to reduce the risk of dropping them and so I can carry more than 2 at a time.

uranium hyacinth vase

My last few vases - rather boring clear ones - they can have the last bulbs. I have all the choices noted on my print-out which I will use to update my spreadsheet. I have a few bulblets there I can plant. I've tried that before but not much came of them - my usual problem - I didn't water them enough.

hyacinth vases

I had to use the table in the garden as I didn't have room inside - and it saved me carrying all the vases up the stairs from the patio to the kitchen.

hyacinth vases

I said yesterday I was going to mail order some more bulbs but after looking at the catalogues again last night I don't think I need to when I can get reasonable bulbs locally and there aren't any particular varieties I really want. I do need a few more bulbs for my bulb bowls and pots but I'm sure my local garden centre will be fine.

I thinned my small vases quite alot and these few are all I have left. Crocus and tulips take such a long time to grow their roots and bloom and the flowers last such a short time (especially crocus) that I decided I didn't want to do too many but I will get some to put in these vases.

tulip and crocus vases

Now that the vases are started, I need to start the bowls. The hyacinth bulbs are so large I don't think I can fit 5 on the smaller bowls. The bowl with 7 holes is for crocus.

bulb bowls and pots

bulb bowls and pots

bulb bowls and pots

these hyacinth bulbs are enormous, I don't recall them ever being so big, I guess the weather was better for them this year

hyacinth bulbs in bowl

definitely the start of the new forcing season

The bulbs are now readily available. Last year the prepared hyacinth bulbs were so late, it was well into September before they were available. But this year they seem to be right on time - I bought my first ones almost 2 weeks ago (August 25th).   I was on holiday so it wasn't my local garden centre. I was shocked to be charged £1.30 per bulb which were 16/17 cm. Today I went to my local garden centre  and bought the above selection of 17/18 cm bulbs (huge Delft Blue bulbs on the right) for 80p each with a discount for quantity. I don't know what's up with that. The above do have some splits and blemishes  but I'd rather have those for 80p than "nicer" ones for £1.30 but I'm only guessing that might be the difference. Some of my vases do need smaller bulbs and some larger so I'm happy to have a variety of sizes.

I'm getting at least a few of every variety I see. These are today's by variety:

Delft Blue

prepared Delft Blue hyacinth bulbs

Jan Bos

prepared Jan Bos hyacinth bulbs

City of Haarlem

prepared City of Haarlem hyacinth bulbs

Pink Pearl

prepared Pink Pearl hyacinth bulbs

White Pearl

White Pearl prepared hyacinth bulbs

Sky Jacket

prepared Sky Jacket hyacinth bulbs


These are the packaged ones I bought today.

I haven't seen Marie or Ibis before so although pink is not my favourite colour, pink-coloured bulbs tend to be the earliest so thought I would try them. Woodstock as well has been early for me although the flowers haven't been very good but I'll give them another chance.

These are not "prepared" so I put them in the fridge, where I will leave them for 6 weeks.




This is the first batch of bulbs I bought in August, smaller than today's and a couple of different varieties. This has Delft Blue (of course!), Fondant, Carnegie, Blue Star, City of Haarlem.

I'm going to mail order some of the varieties I didn't find at the garden centre and probably more Delft Blue and some other varieties so I can compare results.

bulbs are magical

Bulbs are magical - rebirth from the warming earth in the spring after being frozen all winter.  Nothing is more indicative of the spring than bulbs coming to life. One of the earliest bulbs are crocus: their spikes telling us spring is most definitely on the way; then bright yellow narcissus: nothing is more cheerful; then hyacinths with their full fat heads of flowers and intoxicating smell. When I open my back door the smell of the hyacinths wafts up to me. When the sun comes up and warms and brightens the morning the tulips open up.

planning for the new forcing season

bulb vasesEven though I'm very busy with my garden "withoutdoors" I can't help thinking about starting my hyacinth bulbs "withindoors"  in September. Every year the first task is counting how many bulbs I need to buy, firstly counting how many vases I have. I can't resist buying more every year even though I have quite a number. These are some recent purchases. I just love those tall intensely coloured Victorian vases so couldn't resist those and the terracotta squat vase is a rare find. The clear vase on the right is not an "official" hyacinth vase but I figure a small bulb will fit on the top. It has that distinctive Victorian fern engraving.

The large vase on the left is for an amaryllis bulb. I do vary my plans every year. Last year I didn't do any amaryllis but I did miss them and now I have a new vase to try I'm going to do some this year. Other plans include fewer crocus (they last such a short time) and fewer tulips (lots of bulbs did not bloom last year).

finally updated my hyacinth forcing results for 2012/2013

I have finally had another look at my hyacinth forcing results for this year. Last year I was so meticulous with my records but this year things were much more haphazard and as some bulbs failed I moved bulbs around between vases - something I never did before. I can see from my pics I had some beautiful hyacinth blooms, even if some results were uneven.

forced hyacinths in vases

I also just had too many vases! Less is more. I have thinned my collection - probably only a little as I also couldn't resist buying a  few more - but I think it will be easier to keep track of fewer bulbs. This summer I'll go through my vases and see what the new total is and if I can thin any more.

forced hyacinths in vases

I have put the info about my results at the 2012/2013 Forcing Results page but here is a repeat of my summary and plans for next year:

Delft Blue is still my favourite - a reliable variety every year. Sky Jacket was good and I will buy more for the next forcing year. If one wants early blooms in December, it just has to be pink and purple-pink (as opposed to purple-blue) varieties such as Pink Pearl, Pink Sensation, Woodstock and Ann Mary (going by past years as well as this year) even though pink is not my favourite colour. For white hyacinths I'm not that impressed with Aiolos so will go back to Innocence for next year and/or try another white variety, eg White Pearl which I don't think I've ever grown. Blue Star I need to try again and keep better track as I can't say for sure how they did.

a pair but not a pair

I'm fascinated by these vases. At first glance they appear to be a pair but on close examination although the design is very very similar, the base vases are quite different. One vase is much lighter and thinner than the other which is a typical cobalt blue heavy glass vase. The light one weighs 220g and the heavy one weighs 320g. The lighter one obviously chips quite easily and has chips around the rim whereas the heavier vase has no chips around the rim.

pair decorated cobalt blue hyacinth vases

pair decorated cobalt blue hyacinth vases

hyacinth in painted milk glass hyacinth vase

One of the hyacinths below was broken off so I've brought it inside and put in a vase. Luckily I had a newly purchased one handy! The scent is fantastic for such a small flower.

painted milk glass hyacinth vase


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