Make the ef­fort to pre­pare hy­acinths now and they will make the per­fect present to your­self when the cold nights ar­rive

Star Courier (Surrey & Hants) - - FRONT PAGE -

ject you can get away with items which don’t have drainage holes. So be­fore you chuck away that old ket­tle or teapot, could it be a quirky planter?

Ditto, old wa­ter­ing cans, bis­cuit or tea tins, jars, vases, bowls, tin cans, wire con­tain­ers ( with moss), oven­ware, bas­kets, old tool boxes and any other ves­sels can all be sized up as pos­si­ble con­tain­ers for your bulb dis­play. Car boot sales and char­ity shops are also great hunt­ing grounds for find­ing quirky, cheap and un­usual vases and pots.

Now to work – wear gloves to pro­tect your hands as hy­acinth bulbs can cause skin ir­ri­ta­tion.

Fill your pot with com­post/ bulb fi­bre, leav­ing a cou­ple of inches for the bulbs. Place these on top, close but not touch­ing, their noses point­ing to the sky.

Now fill in gaps with more com­post – you want the tips of the bulbs to be vis­i­ble at the top, not buried.

Wa­ter in so it’s all moist – if you overdo the wa­ter­ing, just gen­tly tip the pot to one side to drain off the ex­cess. Place the pot in a cool ( around 9C), dark place – a shed or garage is ideal – and drape a black poly­thene sack on top to ex­clude the light.

De­pend­ing on the va­ri­ety, leave in situ for around six to eight weeks.

Check them pe­ri­od­i­cally and wa­ter so they don’t dry out.

When about two inches of yel­low growth is show­ing, bring the pots into the light – some­where not too bright or hot. Be pa­tient – if you whip them out of the garage too early you’ll get lots of leaves but not many flow­ers.

Over the next three weeks they will green up and flower, and be ready as gifts or to be brought into the house.

It can be a good idea to stag­ger the plant­ing – so do some this week­end and an­other batch in a fort­night’s time so you’ll have plenty of fra­grance to look for­ward to over the fes­tive sea­son.

You can also plant them in spe­cial hy­acinth vases – lit­tle glass vases with a neck for the bulb to rest in.

You just keep the wa­ter topped up to be­low – but not touch­ing – the bulb, and keep in a cool, dark place as above.

Here’s a se­lec­tion to look out for when you’re shop­ping: Amethyst and Os­tara for beau­ti­ful vi­o­let flow­ers, Delft is the clas­sic blue and Kronos a very deep blue, Pink Pearl and White Pearl.

And they all smell fan­tas­tic!

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