ju1i3's blog

new vases for hyacinth forcing

forcing hyacinths in vasesThese black vases have quite large necks so I needed to choose some of the larger hyacinth bulbs to force in them. I think the vases are Victorian so I'm wondering, did growers produce larger hyacinth bulbs in the 19th century or are these, in fact, hyacinth vases. I'm certainly going to use them as such even if they are not "official".

These black vases have some intriguing scenes on them. I think the first one (below) is Hector's body being dragged by Achilles' chariot so using the Trojan War as a starting point I will try to identify the other scenes. If anyone recognises any of the scenes/figures (and/or the trademark image), please get in touch.

I have now found out that these are Pratt Ware with a Greek design that was used on a number of their other products as well.

Victorian black hyacinth vase with Trojan War scenes

Victorian black hyacinth vase with Trojan War scenes

I assume the scene below is Hector, his wife Andromache and son Astyanax, as he's going off to another battle.

Victorian black hyacinth vase with Trojan War scenes

Below is the trademark image on the bottom of both vases with the Discobolus of Myron.

Victorian trademark image with Discobolus of Myron

This is the second vase.

Victorian black hyacinth vase with Trojan War scenes

At some point Achilles is angry and sits with his cloak over his head but is this figure really Achilles? He doesn't look very impressive.

Victorian black hyacinth vase with Trojan War scenes

Victorian black hyacinth vase with Trojan War scenes

Victorian black hyacinth vase with Trojan War scenes

getting bulbs ready for forcing in vases and pots

hyacinth bulbs to force

Still awaiting my mail order bulbs so can't resist buying some locally. These China Pink hyacinths I haven't noticed before so I wanted to try them. They aren't "prepared" so will need 6 weeks in the fridge before I start them in the vases. I also need more small bulbs for containers so always looking for the smallest bulbs available. I'm still trying different varieties to see what works best. These two types of narcissus are quite small so I'm going to try them in these Shorter and Son flower troughs. All these bulbs (unplanted) will now go into the fridge for 6 weeks.

small bulbs for forcing

I don't know if bulb fibre or grit or pebbles is best for the pots. I'm still experimenting. I recently found a new product to try: bulb fibre especially for indoor bulbs. I will report back how it performs this year.

cleaning vases

In getting my bulb vases out I'm noticing how cloudy some of them are. These desperately need a clean. Bulb vases sitting with water in them for months seem to exacerbate the staining problem. Also London hard water? The cranberry vase got so cloudy recently so it could be a factor.

cloudy hyacinth vases

I've tried variously things in the past to clean vases but I'm going to try some stronger remedies now, including a Dremel to polish off the stains. Will post the results here.

I tried a local garden centre again at the weekend and found they did have bulbs in stock. I bought a few but nothing new or different. 

when will the bulbs ever be in stock?

miniature tulip bulbs and vasesI'm getting impatient to get some bulbs to force. I keep checking my local garden centres but they don't have them in stock yet. I finally gave in and bought a box of miniature tulips at Sainsburys. I got out the smaller vases to see which ones are the right size (above). That will keep me going for a little while. Last year I bought some bulbs on August 27th. Today's the 26th. What's delaying the bulbs this year? I'm sure I bought them even earlier the year before.

bulb vases to keep August 2012

I've chosen 46 vases to keep this year. Every year I need to cull some or else numbers get out of control. There are only so many vases I can fit on my window sill much as I love buying more. Below are a few of my new vases and pots. Only the green vase is a hyacinth vase and the bowl on the left a bulb bowl. The other items I'm going to use for bulbs although they are not officially for bulbs. The small blue and white pot is from Culpeper (now out of business). I'm quite curious about the ceramics they sold as some seem to be for bulbs and some are in a Delft style which I like. The trough at the back is a new (for me) Shorter and Son design.

new pots and vases

buying hyacinth bulbs for Christmas 2012

cobalt blue octagonal hyacinth vaseIt's time to think about buying hyacinth bulbs for forcing to be in bloom for Christmas. I got my first bulb catalogue very early this year - the Saturday before the Chelsea Flower Show in May but after all the research I did  last year  on the hyacinth bulb varieties available I decided to take a more casual approach this year. I haven't ordered any bulbs (yet) and am planning on buying some next week at a local garden centre.  Seeing the bulb sizes in person is very useful as I'm always looking for the smallest varieties to fit into the Shorter troughs. I'll probably also order some bulbs from one supplier but not from the suppliers who didn't even respond to my queries earlier this year.

In addition to prepared hyacinth bulbs and unprepared hyacinth bulbs to prepare myself I will buy some crocus and small tulips. I loved how some of the tulips (Little Princess, Red Hunter and White Dream) turned out last forcing season although others didn't bloom at all. Bulbs can be very fickle about being forced. I'm still using trial and error to find which varieties work and which don't.

I also can't resist buying more hyacinth vases. I love Victorian cobalt blue glass and was especially pleased to find this octagonal squat hyacinth vase as I didn't have one of this type.

hyacinth vase at Chelsea Flower Show

Here's Carol Klein holding a hyacinth vase in the Floral Pavillion at the Chelsea Flower Show. It's a shame it's an extremely minor part of the hyacinth stand. Don't know why they even bothered. It looks pretty unloved - it needs a top-up of water.

hyacinth vase Chelsea

flower bricks and bulb bowls

I'm interested in anything that can be used to grow bulbs indoors.

bulb bowls and flower bricks

The bulb bowls with lids with holes seem to be straightforward enough. The bulbs (crocus or hyacinth, depending on size of the holes) go in the holes on top. How does one use a flower brick? The large hole seems perfect for a crocus bulb but I'm not sure if they were made for that or were just made for cut flowers. I managed to find a few spent bulbs to show a comparison of the hole sizes.

bulb bowls and flower bricks

bulb bowls and flower bricks

The main question with the bulb bowls is whether to put the bulbs on top of the lid or underneath. I think they were made for the bulbs to go on top. Before I knew that I put them underneath. Both methods have their pros and cons.

The empty hole (below) was because the crocus bulb dropped down as it was a bit small. The largest bulbs are required to sit on top. Some roots can also be seen around the edge of the bulbs preventing them from sitting neatly in the holes.

crocus bowl

The bowl below looks quite neat with the bulbs beneath the lid but that isn't always the case as in the pic below that as it shows how multiple stems can be a tight fit in the holes and the roots push the bulbs up, dislodging the lid.

crocus bowl

crocus pots

I'd love to see how these ceramic items were actually used rather than my attempts. If anyone can direct me to paintings that feature them, it would be great, thanks (julie @ gardenwithindoors.org.uk).

I'm not sure if this was made for cuttings or bulbs or either. I'm going to use it for small bulbs.

bulb holder with bulbs

And of course one can use small pots for small bulbs indoors. Below are a couple purchased recently at the front and a couple of vases and the bulb bowls and flower bricks for size comparison.

bulb bowls and flower bricks

planting out forced hyacinths

In addition to watering my bulbs, I find planting the spent ones out a real challenge. I guess we all have things we are better at than others. This is all I have left of the bulbs. Some rotted after sitting in a bucket for the last 2 months and a few the squirrels have had and I discarded the Jan Bos which I was disappointed with.

forced hyacinths to plant out

They are now finally in the ground.

forced hyacinths planted out

Here are some blooming this year that I planted out in previous years so there's still life in them after forcing.

forced hyacinths planted out in flower

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hyacinth bulblets

I've tended to put any bulblets I break off from my hyacinth bulbs into this pelargonium pot - only because it's handy! Until recently I never saw them grow or root or do anything but now I see a few of them are growing in earnest. Maybe I just left them long enough? or watered them enough? (I must admit I never watered this pot much off season). (The hyacinths are the smooth straight stems with the pelargonium further back on the right.) I will replant them into their own pots and see how long until they bloom, if indeed they ever do. I will also try to organise a better pot to put bulblets in in the future.

growing hyacinth bulblets

Avalanche Narcissus

Another failure with the Avalanche Narcissus. I gave them time in the fridge (6 weeks) and time in the cellar and didn't take them out until the roots and stems were well-developed so I really don't know  where I'm going wrong.

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