Great British Garden Revival

Anyone else watching the Great British Garden Revival? Gosh, Tom Hart Dyke talking about Victorians and bringing plants indoors and choosing regardless of what's in fashion and not a mention of forcing bulbs! He has his own "approved" list of what you should grow indoors and he doesn't include hyacinths.  signed, Disgusted

hyacinths day after Christmas

amber tulip cup hyacinth vase


Until I bought this amber hyacinth vase, I'd never seen one in this exact shape - and I love it. The cup is more flower-like than similar vases, I would say tulip-like (unlike the similar amber vase below).

forced hyacinths day after Christmas

forced hyacinths day after Christmas

These just came out of the cellar (note there is some overlap with these photos- it was difficult to show them all in the same photo). This is the peak, for me, of the forcing season with about 20 coming out of the cellar on the same day.

forced hyacinth bulbs

forced hyacinth bulbs

forced hyacinth bulbs in vases

This bud is huge. On closer examination it shows the beginning of 2 stems.

The bulb below wasn't sitting in the vase quite right. When I tried to straighten it I realised there was a bulblet, common enough, but I didn't expect it to be so developed under the water. I broke it off and planted it in a pot (photo to follow).

forced hyacinth bulb with bulblet

Pink Pearl forced hyacinths

This is a close-up of the tins above. It's a shame they never bloomed properly. I don't like this variety generally. Its main advantage is that it blooms early, which it did, after a fashion. I think these may be another example of mislabelled bulbs as I can't imagine I bought so many! although I did not note the bulbs in the tins as carefully as I did the vases.

forced Pink Pearl hyacinths planted in tins

These two are ready to be discarded. The one on the left (White Pearl) never bloomed properly. The one on the right (Fondant) only half-bloomed.

2 spent forced hyacinth bulbs

amaryllis in full bloom

Some of the amaryllis are in full bloom (2 of the 4) and they only took 5 weeks. One is not looking good at all (2nd from left) and the last one (far left) is not nearly as full  as the best ones. So somewhat hit and miss on these. For the price (£8.99 each) I want them all to be spectacular. Yesterday I rinsed out all the vases and put in fresh water. I also removed all the rotten roots. 

amaryllis in vases

With limited space and a ridiculous number of vases and pots I have to be brutal and thin the hyacinths as soon as they've bloomed. So I will be discarding these today. Some never bloomed properly. Some are just past their best.

spent hyacinth bulbs in vases

These are worth keeping a little longer.

Pink Pearl hyacinth bulbs in vases

Pink Pearl hyacinth bulbs

Pink Pearl hyacinths

These (below) were in the Jan Bos bin at the garden centre - but they aren't Jan Bos! I'm very disappointed. These were the only Jan Bos hyacinths I bought this year. They look like Pink Pearl.

Pink Pearl hyacinth bulbs

crocus bowl

crocus bowl

more bulbs out of the cellar

This Blue Star hyacinth bulb has distinctive colouring and some of the other purple/blue hyacinths have similar colouring.

hyacinth bulb Blue Star

White Pearl hyacinth ready to come out of the cellar into the light as the bulge of the flower is out of the bulb. NB the bulb has none of the purple colouring as on the bulb above.

hyacinth bulb White Pearl

Another White Pearl hyacinth bulb with that distinctive bulge of the flower out of the bulb.

hyacinth bulb White Pearl

Sometimes it's uncertain if the bulb is ready to come out. The bulb in the Tye vase in the front is not as clear as some of them but I decided it probably was ready.

hyacinth vases

One of my cats, Polly Pocket, overseeing all my bulb forcing.

forcing bulbs

hyacinth and crocus vases

Victorian plant stand with hyacinth vases


I thought this plant stand would be good to put some of my hyacinth vases on as I don't have a window sill in this room.

As usual it was a dark day when I took this photo. Must try again when there's more sun.






Victorian plant stand with hyacinth vases

I took the crocus vases out of the cellar recently. The crocus stems don't have flower bulges like hyacinths but at that height I thought they must be ready to come out.

crocus vases

One of these hyacinth bulbs is definitely ready to come out of the cellar but one of them is not, the others in between . I guess that's the drawback of a bulb bowl with 5 bulbs. I hope they will catch up.

bulb bowl with hyacinth bulbs early December

"just needs water"

I'm not trying to advertise Sainsbury's but I do love seeing indoor bulbs being sold and I love the slogan "just needs water". They really are that easy!

And at 3 pounds for a hyacinth vase including a bulb (top left in the photo below), they are quite affordable.

first hyacinth bulbs out of the cellar

forced hyacinth bulbs in Tate and Lyle golden syrup tins

The warm weather continued so long into the autumn the forced bulbs in the cellar are growing very fast and ready so early to come upstairs. I've never known them to be so early. Usually they need to come up by December 1st and they often aren't ready then but I have quite a few that really seem to need to come up. As shown in these photos, the bulge of the flower is fully out of the bulb. That needs to be the case before bringing the bulbs (in whatever container/vase) into the warmth and light.

forced hyacinth bulbs

forced amaryllis and hyacinth

If only I'd had a supply of these in September.

Tate and Lyle festive edition golden syrup tin

Things to do after the vases and containers are brought into the warmth and light.

1. top up with water

This pink plastic vase needs topping up with water. The lid is quite open and allows more evaporation.

2. remove bulblets

This one must have developed in the weeks it's been in the cellar as I removed any that I noticed back in September when I put the bulbs in the vases.

hyacinth bulb with bulblet

3. top up containers with soil

The roots tend to push up the bulbs so the containers may need to be topped up with soil

hyacinth bulb in tin

4. push the roots down into the vase

Some of the roots here are growing outwards for some reason. I try to push them back into the vase although that will make some of them break off.

hyacinth bulb in Tate and Lyle Golden Syrup tin

As I noted elsewhere, pink flowered bulbs tend to flower earliest. It's no coincidence that all these bulbs are Jan Bos, Pink Pearl, 1 Fondant (pink) and 1 White Pearl (white I assume so why is it so early? we'll have to wait and see). In the past Jan Bos have been the earliest bloomers.

amaryllis in vases

It was so grey and rainy last week I thought the one thing I could do indoors was to start the amaryllis. I'm down to 4 vases after breaking 1 recently and buying another over the summer.

amaryllis bulbs in amaryllis vases

The roots are starting their rotting phase and the water is just starting to turn brown but as in previous years I'm sure that will be followed by fresh roots. And the stems are certainly growing strongly already. On the right is a hyacinth vase (from Marks and Spencer) which I was given as a present recently.  What a nice pressie to receive! It makes a nice contrast with the amaryllis to highlight the size differences. It should be it in the cellar.

System Status

Sadly I've had to remove users' ability to login and leave any comments as I'm under attack from spammers.  Most seem to be coming from DataShack in Kansas City. I've notified them and asked them to do something about their users running these bots.

While this is going on, If you would like to share anything, photos, news about your bulbs, etc, feel free to email me: julie  at, thanks.


status of the hyacinth bulbs and the crocus and tulip bulbs

Checking on the hyacinth bulbs today (after 7 weeeks in the dark) shows many have masses of roots and many have flower stems sprouting. Of course they should be kept in the cellar (or similar dark environment) for another 5 weeks until about December 1st when the flower stem with the bulge of the flower has emerged from the bulb. I just took them out to take a photo.

hyacinth bulbs in hyacinth vases

Unlike previous years many of the bulbs have a coating of mold. It does seem to be quite warm still in the cellar and it's certainly damp, both with all the rain in recent weeks and my cellar is damp anyway. I'm not sure why some bulbs have it and some do not. I will have to note it in my spreadsheet and see if there's any correlation with hyacinth variety.

4 of the vases below have prominent stems sprouting. It will be interesting to see if there is a correlation with hyacinth variety for this as well.

hyacinth vases

Richmond hyacinth vase

Some of the crocus bulbs have lots of roots but not all of them; they aren't nearly as consistent as the hyacinths. I find the crocus bulbs (and tulip bulbs), unlike the hyacinth bulbs, benefit from actually sitting in the water. The hyacinths will rot if they sit in water.

crocus bulbs in forcing vases

All of the small vases below are actually crocus vases. I'm using them for small tulip bulbs. As far as I know there are no "official" tulip vases so we just have to improvise any vase that will hold a tulip bulb which do vary in size depending on the variety. Most of the tulip bulbs below are quite small and can fit easily in a crocus vase. The tall black vase is a truffle bottle holding a slightly larger tulip bulb as is the darker blue vase in the middle.

tulip bulbs in forcing vases

A comparison of bulb sizes, below left to right: large hyacinth, average hyacinth, small tulip, crocus, very small tulip.

bulb sizes

more hyacinth bulbs

I took the hyacinth bulbs I was preparing myself out of the fridge last week. I can't believe it was 6 weeks already since I bought them beginning of September - time flies. Of course, it was silly of me to buy so many bulbs but I just couldn't resist them. I have no more vases or even pots to put them all in! although obviously I've found a few pots to use. This first set of pots was from Sainsburys a few years ago that came with narcissus bulbs.

hyacinth bulbs in pots

hyacinth bulbs in pots


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