green shoots


Although they sometimes make me think of witches’ fingers as they thrust, Carrie-like, out of the ground, I never get over the thrill of seeing the first signs of life in my bulbs.

This year I finally got round to using my many sugar bowls, jugs and old jars as planters – something I have been meaning to do for years, but one way and another I always miss the moment. In fact this year, although I managed to order the hyacinth bulbs, I forgot to get any hyacinth vases, the ones which suspend the bulb above the water. In the end I discovered that peanut butter jars are the perfect substitute – if you squint a bit at the top picture you can see them in the background.

I have never forced hyacinths in this way before, and the rapidity with which the pale shoots turn intensely green once they are brought into the light is quite startling. There was another surprise too: several slugs managed to eat their way into the bulbs, and out the other side into the water below. So in amongst the sculptural swirl of pale roots, dead slugs lurk like miniature sea monsters. I can’t quite bring myself to photograph them, though I probably should – for posterity, if nothing else. Of course the girls and their friends are fascinated by them, it’s like having a ghoulish fish tank on kitchen table: tap on the vase and the dead bodies bob about.

But these are my favourites – a little dish of grape hyacinths (Muscari) given to me by my friend Sarah who knows I love old china as much as I love plants. Thank you Sarah!

11 thoughts on “green shoots

  1. My Tenby daffodils which I planted between my trees are coming up too. I’m a bit frightened to look at them now you’ve made me think of Carrie.

  2. Sorry about that! Odd that it should have come into my mind. I guess it must be deeply imbedded in my subconscious, child of the 70s as I am. It’s the last scene, I suppose, or near enough.

  3. Your bulbs look beautiful! I was very lazy & didn’t get round to bulb planting in the autumn. Think I will transplant some supermarket ones into china this weekend – you have inspired me!

    • That’s exactly what I’ve resorted to in the past and I can’t say, hand on heart, that I won’t do it again this year when the lust for spring colour gets the better of me! Same with bunches of flowers in the supermarket.

  4. What lovely and inventive containers. I love to see old china used in different ways, it’s too nice to be kept in the back of a cupboard. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Looking good, I gave in this week and bought some Hyacinths from a supermarket. I don’t seem to have such pretty china so have left them in the pot, I expect I’ll have to use chopsticks and ribbon to keep the heavy flowerheads upright.

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