Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. Love me and I may be forced to love you.
William Arthur Ward
(ariel view of a tiny grape hyacinth preparing to bloom, Julie Cook / 2014)
Just as life appears to be overrun with dull wet grey skies, dirty melting slushy snow and the dead crunchy brown sodded lawns of a winter’s harsh ways— tiny miracles are mysteriously arriving in stores far and wide. Joy abounds walking into the grocery store and local home improvement store as our poor sensory deprived eyes are met with exciting tiny botanical treasures.
Brown bumpy lumpy tubers known as bulbs have been secretly and silently doing their thing, hidden away in some cool dark place of mystery, for about 10 weeks. The roots are now taking hold as stems shoot skyward, topped off with a variety of buds chomping at the bit to explode into a dazzling display of early color. These buds, which are tentatively perched atop long narrow stalks, are getting ready to sprout forth with colorful gems offering heavenly scents and pleasing sights. Be it hyacinth, iris, tulip, paperwhite, amaryllis or daffodil, the forcing bulbs have arrived.
It seems this little habit of “forcing” bulbs to bloom indoors, long before the true flowering season out of doors takes a more natural route, came about in the 1600’s, most likely in the Netherlands–later becoming all the rage in the Victorian days of the 1800’s. Apparently not all households could afford fresh flowers making bulbs, and “forcing” them to bloom, a much more affordable choice.
So if you’re finding these chilly days just a bit too much, so much so that perhaps the sight of a little color coupled by a most beneficial springlike scent added to a heat imposed house would put a wee spring to your step, then may I suggest gathering a tiny forcing vase filled with your bulb of choice
If you would like to try your own hand at this most user friendly growing technique, I did read that it does require some time in which to prepare the bulb—letting it perch over a bit of water or placed in a planting medium, allowing it to then “chill”, literally, at a constant temperature of 48ᵒ in a dark out of the way spot, say the basement or attic. This hyacinth was afforded 10 weeks of sitting and chilling before it’s roots descended and its bloom shot skyward. It is at this point that they arrive in the stores.
Once brought out to the warmer, lighter world of home or office, the real beauty takes place as these hardy little tubers suddenly become show stoppers bursting forth with color and scent—reminding all of us that thankfully Spring is just weeks away.