planning for the new forcing season

bulb vasesEven though I'm very busy with my garden "withoutdoors" I can't help thinking about starting my hyacinth bulbs "withindoors"  in September. Every year the first task is counting how many bulbs I need to buy, firstly counting how many vases I have. I can't resist buying more every year even though I have quite a number. These are some recent purchases. I just love those tall intensely coloured Victorian vases so couldn't resist those and the terracotta squat vase is a rare find. The clear vase on the right is not an "official" hyacinth vase but I figure a small bulb will fit on the top. It has that distinctive Victorian fern engraving.

The large vase on the left is for an amaryllis bulb. I do vary my plans every year. Last year I didn't do any amaryllis but I did miss them and now I have a new vase to try I'm going to do some this year. Other plans include fewer crocus (they last such a short time) and fewer tulips (lots of bulbs did not bloom last year).

finally updated my hyacinth forcing results for 2012/2013

I have finally had another look at my hyacinth forcing results for this year. Last year I was so meticulous with my records but this year things were much more haphazard and as some bulbs failed I moved bulbs around between vases - something I never did before. I can see from my pics I had some beautiful hyacinth blooms, even if some results were uneven.

forced hyacinths in vases

I also just had too many vases! Less is more. I have thinned my collection - probably only a little as I also couldn't resist buying a  few more - but I think it will be easier to keep track of fewer bulbs. This summer I'll go through my vases and see what the new total is and if I can thin any more.

forced hyacinths in vases

I have put the info about my results at the 2012/2013 Forcing Results page but here is a repeat of my summary and plans for next year:

Delft Blue is still my favourite - a reliable variety every year. Sky Jacket was good and I will buy more for the next forcing year. If one wants early blooms in December, it just has to be pink and purple-pink (as opposed to purple-blue) varieties such as Pink Pearl, Pink Sensation, Woodstock and Ann Mary (going by past years as well as this year) even though pink is not my favourite colour. For white hyacinths I'm not that impressed with Aiolos so will go back to Innocence for next year and/or try another white variety, eg White Pearl which I don't think I've ever grown. Blue Star I need to try again and keep better track as I can't say for sure how they did.

a pair but not a pair

I'm fascinated by these vases. At first glance they appear to be a pair but on close examination although the design is very very similar, the base vases are quite different. One vase is much lighter and thinner than the other which is a typical cobalt blue heavy glass vase. The light one weighs 220g and the heavy one weighs 320g. The lighter one obviously chips quite easily and has chips around the rim whereas the heavier vase has no chips around the rim.

pair decorated cobalt blue hyacinth vases

pair decorated cobalt blue hyacinth vases

hyacinth in painted milk glass hyacinth vase

One of the hyacinths below was broken off so I've brought it inside and put in a vase. Luckily I had a newly purchased one handy! The scent is fantastic for such a small flower.

painted milk glass hyacinth vase

last year's forced hyacinths blooming in the garden

I've had a few weeks off from thinking about bulbs. All my bulbs had finished indoors and nothing was happening with any bulbs outdoors with bitter cold weather so I didn't have any thoughts to share here but now spring seems to have finally arrived and hyacinths are in bloom in the garden. I had also misplaced my forcing records for last year (luckily just found them) now must finish analysing them before I start thinking about what bulbs to buy for next year (the next forcing year starting in September 2013).

Last year I planted out some of the spent forced indoor hyacinths. This spring has been so cold they've only just bloomed, especially in the front garden which gets more sun, and just a couple so far in the back garden.

spent indoor hyacinths blooming outside


Obviously the flowers are a lot smaller and the florets quite sparse compared with their initial blooms last year, partially down to the weather this year I imagine.

This blog entry relates to both my garden withindoors and my garden withoutdoors so I'm going to put it at both sites.







red tulip

red tulip close-up

first red tulip

This red tulip has surprised me by actually blooming. On the left the flower looks trapped in the furled up leaves yesterday. Today  I couldn't resist a little intervention and set the flower free (shown below right).

red tulip

red tulip













Below is Pussycat with this red tulip in the background on the windowsill (before I let it loose) with the tins of narcissus and pussy willows in the vase. The pussy willow branches were tight buds when I brought them inside. After a day or so the buds opened and the fuzzy flowers emerged. I love them and remember them from my childhood. We used to ride our bikes in the cemetary across the road to look for them.

Pussycat with pussy willows and narcissus

final indoor bulbs

These narcissus aren't doing very much. These are my final indoor bulbs but don't seem very happy being "forced". I think they'll bloom when they are good and ready and not a day sooner. The 3 rose bowls on the left and the ceramic bowl in the bottom pic are narcissus minnow. I think the 5 tins may be tete-a-tete but I must admit I'm having trouble remembering what I planted where.  I'll have to go back and look at my photos. narcissus minnow

narcissus minnow

planting spent hyacinths outside

Because of time, space and bad weather, I've just been throwing the spent hyacinths into a pile outside. Now there's some warmer weather I can plant them in the garden. spent hyacinths

Somehow I did manage to plant them all. 75 spent hyacinths are planted, with only a few in a very poor state on the compost pile.

spent hyacinths planted outside

and from the other side

spent hyacinths planted outside

I found these in the cellar the other day. I had forgotten they were there.

rose bowls with bulbs

I noticed that this purple sensation hyacinth bloomed again as well as the others I noted the other day.

purple sensation hyacinth with additional flowering

ever reliable hyacinths and trial and error with crocus and tulips

I definitely had too many vases to fill this forcing season but I can't resist buying more, especially these jewel coloured Victorian vases.

jewel coloured squat vases

jewel coloured squat vases

I sometimes wonder why people buy clear glass vases when the jewel-like colours of the Victorian vases are so beautiful.

jewel-coloured vases

hyacinth with 3rd stem

Hyacinths are so easy to grow, especially compared to other bulbs. They want to grow no matter what. I found this bulb outside in my pile of spent bulbs sprouting a 3rd flowering stem after the first 2 have wilted. Below is the hyacinth bulb I cut in half to show the developed flower inside before it started growing. I stuck it in a pot to see what would happen and as predicted it started to grow. It has a stem growing which I'm sure will eventually develop a flower.  These hyacinths are magic. Just stick them in a vase with water and they're soon rooting, unlike these crocus and tulips which are so hit and miss. I am still experimenting with them and through trial and error trying to figure out which varieties and what methods work best.


cut hyacinth sprouting

These small tulips rooted well at first and then all of this variety wilted without blooming. They were from the selection sold in the box (below) but the varieties are not marked.

wilted tulips

tulip box

Unfortunately the tulip on the left never bloomed properly although the flower is clearly visible in the still furled leaves. Why didn't it make that final lap? The tulip on the right has a very strange growth from the bottom of the bulb pushing the bulb right out of the vase. Is it a root-type growth or an additional stem? I can't tell. Below is another image of it outside the vase.

forced small tulip strange tulip















strange tulip

In contrast, this variety of tulip (centre, below)  has performed brilliantly; the only ones in the box to bloom.

forced tulips


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