Thursday, 10 October 2013

Christmas bulbs: keeping them in the dark

I have imprisoned things in the dark dankness of my cellar today. Not something I did lightly.  Indeed, in order to achieve my objective I had to move the ironing board, the recycling, the camping table, the shopping bags and the vacuum cleaner and then remove the floor sections of my glory hole. (I'm sure the people who come to read the meter have palpitations and have flashbacks to Kathy Bates' film 'Misery' when I go through these procedures and usher them down the dark brick steps).

Today's victims, whose banishment will endure for about 8 weeks, were teacups full of crocus bulbs, and terracotta pots of hyacinths which I'm trying to force into flower around Christmas time.  I am going to put together a few teacup bulb kits for people to plant themselves, but feel that these are nicer sold ready growing, with a hope of flowers during the dark days of December/January rather than the recipient having to plant them up some time in the new year, with the resulting flowers appearing at the same time as the ones in the garden.  What do you think?

This spring's teacup planter crop in late March - a great success with customers.

In the garden, I've cleared spaces and put in lots of scented narcissus bulbs, muscari and leucojum aestivum. I've also laid waste to a couple of the viburnum bushes, which has generated new wish lists for things to put in the gaps.  Scented peonies from Kelways Nurseries are currently tempting me greatly, but they have such a short season for the space they take up.  Should probably be more practical about it, although they are soooooo beautiful and I love the idea of scent with those blousy blooms.

Still have all my tulips to plant, but will leave those until November to avoid the risk of the fungal disease, tulip fire.  At least the weather is turning colder now, which should kill off lurking bugs and beasties that munch.  It will also, sadly,  put paid to my cosmos and dahlias which are still flowering their hearts out.  In the greenhouse, however, I've got a nascent crop of cornflowers, ammi, marigolds and cerinthe which are all doing brilliantly from September sowings.  I've got so many cornflowers, that I'm even going to risk planting out a load after hardening them off to take pot luck in the great outdoors over winter.  If they don't make it, at least I won't have had to invest lots of watering time and compost on their upkeep over the next few months.

I didn't have a great deal of success with my anemones this year and the Twitterati of #britishflowers were all swooning over their tunnel grown crops of the same, so have today planted lots of black nuggety corms in my greenhouse border, to see if I have better luck with getting a decent crop of them in there.  I'm dreaming of future bunches as I tend all these bulbs and babies.

Red anemone de caen with alchemilla mollis and astrantia
This year's anemone planting is 'The Bride' - a white variety. Hope I get these mad red ones reappearing too.
But back to the present:  I've got 100 wreath bases taking up valuable shelf space in my shed, lavender, statice and honesty suspended from anything vaguely suspenderable (including my light fittings where the ceiling is high enough) and bags full of cones waiting for the call to action.  It feels very odd to be thinking about Christmas this early, but need to start organising my plan of action for stall wares in November and December.   I've even got to organise a Christmas photoshoot for my china wares in order to generate some festive purchase spirit in my online shop!  I just hope my family will be in the mood for mince pies and german lebkuchen at some point in the next couple of weeks.


  1. I like to give ready planted hyacinth bulbs in pretty pots to friends for Christmas. You've reminded me that I need to get on with this. I've got the bulbs and found some nice pots in a local charity shop. Now all I need do is plant them!