Gifts of nature Clever ways with hyacinths
Hyacinths will fill your home with a wonderful fragrance and glorious colour, and they make lovely Christmas presents
Hyacinths are usually the heralds of spring, but it’s possible to encourage the bulbs into bloom in the last months of the year in time for Christmas. To do this, choose specially treated bulbs – look for the word ‘prepared’ on the label. Then plant in soil in pots or place in a glass hyacinth forcing vase. If you’re using a forcing vase, remove as much dirt as possible from the bulb, pour some water into the bottom of the vase and place the bulb in the top. The body of the bulb shouldn’t touch the water but let the roots hang down and reach it. Keep the hyacinth in a cool, dark spot, covered if possible, and when there are plenty of roots and the sprouts are showing, move it to somewhere brighter. Soon, the sprouts will begin to shed their covers, which means it is time to remove them, and the fragrant flowers will begin to unfold.
A BEAUTIFUL ARRANGEMENTTeam cut hyacinths with aromatic leaves such as eucalyptus for a stunning bouquet with a wonderful scent
31 MAKE A SEAT It’s important that hyacinth bulbs don’t come into contact with water and forcing vases are designed to stop this. If you don’t have one, use a jam or marmalade jar instead and construct a small scaffold for the bulb, made of four small twigs. Simply tie them together with string and ensure it’s the right size for the bulb to sit on, lay it on the jar and put the bulb on top 2 FILL A CRATE Create a beautiful arrangement by placing hyacinths in forcing vases, clear glass and empty marmalade jars into the sections of a crate 3 PRETTY DISPLAY If a couple of flowers break off, don’t let them go to waste. Put them in a vase of water, and create a rustic display by adding lichen or twigs4 FULL BLOOM Hyacinths come in a wealth of varieties, offering a fantastic mix of flowers, colours and shapes. Gather together a collection in a braided basket. Just place a bowl or plate beneath and it will work perfectly as a vase See p174 to order free peonies. Just pay p&p