By planting indoor containers with bulbs, you can enjoy spring throughout the gloomiest winter months
Spring blooms can infuse your home with scent and colour well before the season actually arrives. Hyacinths, narcissi and amaryllis are all good bulbs for indoors. Paper-white narcissi (Narcissus papyraceus) are my favourites. These elegant bulbs fill the room with fragrance and are incredibly easy to grow.
Planting bulbs only requires a little planning. Last year, I placed bulbs directly in water-filled containers. The whole process was engaging, from sprouting to watching the roots develop.
The trick is to stagger the planting of a few pots every seven days, thus allowing an extended flowering period. Florist extraordinaire Sarah Raven recommends buying several cheap plastic colanders and planting one with bulbs each week. As each colander comes into flower, she drops it into a favourite container, puts it on display and replaces the plant that has just finished flowering.
When planting the colander, fill it with a mixture of compost and grit, as drainage is crucial. Push the bulbs in just below the surface (about 10cm), pointy end up. Cover with a little more compost, push the soil down until firm and water well. They should flower within eight weeks.