Bulbs to light up a bleak mid­win­ter

With Diar­muid Gavin

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

Last week I wrote about pre­par­ing for spring with a se­lec­tion of bulbs to whet your ap­petite. This week I’m go­ing to tell you how you can bring spring to your house in mid- win­ter with a bit of for­ward plan­ning. I’m re­fer­ring to the prac­tice of “forc­ing” bulbs to flower ahead of their time. By plant­ing now and into Oc­to­ber, you can have won­der­ful scented and colour­ful flow­er­ing dis­plays in­doors by Christ­mas.

They also make great Christ­mas gifts and you can save your­self a fair few quid by do­ing the prepa­ra­tion now, in­stead of buy­ing them ready­made in De­cem­ber.

First, you need to pur­chase some hy­acinth bulbs – you are look­ing for “pre­pared” ones as these have al­ready been sub­jected to a cold spell to trick them that they are half way through win­ter.

If you are choos­ing dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties, don’t mix them up as they can flower at dif­fer­ent times.

The pack­ag­ing will give you ap­prox­i­mate times for flow­er­ing so keep this info handy.

You’ll also need some bulb fi­bre or multi- pur­pose com­post.

Bulb fi­bre con­tains some char­coal which keeps the com­post sweet by ab­sorb­ing gases and this is par­tic­u­larly use­ful if you are us­ing bowls which have no drainage holes.

Next your con­tainer… here’s where you can be in­ven­tive and cre­ative.

Sim­ple ter­ra­cotta pots are al­ways lovely and can be jazzed up for Christ­mas by us­ing gold or sil­ver sprays or red rib­bons. A lovely way to per­son­alise a gift is to spray the re­cip­i­ent’s ini­tial on the pot us­ing a sten­cil.

There are plenty of house­hold items that can be up­cy­cled, and for this pro-

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