Friday, 4 September 2015


Just when we think that Spring will never arrive and the garden seems lifeless, the trees so stark and the perennials are nowhere to be seen,  there is a way to hurry Spring along!  

We all get desperate for signs of new life in the garden and unless we have planted bulbs, the wait for Spring and Summer can seem endless.  The Southern Highlands has had a particularly cold winter  this year and we have even had snow!!  This has meant that the bulbs have been slower in making their cheery appearance in the garden.   

I've always loved seeing photos of bulbs flowering in bowls indoors but I have never tried doing this myself.  

The whole concept of 'forcing' bulbs rather terrified me and I wrongly believed that it is very difficult to get right!  I was unsure about timing, whether or not to refrigerate  or how to plan when they should flower!  In the end,  I simply planted them late.   Those I wished to bring indoors were planted into plastic pots.  I think the 'forcing' happens when they react to the warmth inside the home!   Obviously good light is important indoors, or if not, a daily stint in the winter sunshine outside will do. 

When I returned from my holiday,  the bulbs planted in my garden pots had all popped up and some were flowering.  Those planted in the plastic pots (for indoors)  were behind, as they had been kept in the shade.

Flowering bulbs in the sunshine
The bulbs planted in plastic pots.  These were kept in the shade.

On the 28th July,  I transplanted lots of Paperwhites and a few tulips into bowls and small clay pots to bring indoors.  

 I then gave them a soft shower of water, mainly to clean up the pot.

The Paperwhites grew very tall indoors and I was careful to take them out most nights.  This might have helped them to last longer.   I didn't really water them much!  We got to enjoy all the indoor bulbs for a period of 5 weeks.  The Tulips are still going strong but the Paperwhites started toppling a few days ago!  I enjoyed moving the bowls all over the house and I am already planning which bulbs to use next year.  Imagine Crocus or Liriope in a small delicate container for the bedrooms...

I placed all the containers on this bench overnight
Below are photos of the various containers and the growth of the bulbs during the weeks spent inside.

I ordered red tulips with white edges to plant in a pretty red, blue and white bowl that I have.   The Tulips were planted deeply in a wooden box at the same time as the others  and were also kept in the shade.  I dug these out and planted them into the bowl and brought them inside.  The Tulips were in good light during the day, but I still took them outside occasionally for sunlight after they started peeking out of the soil.  Once they started flowering, however,  they have remained indoors and have flourished!!

I was amazed at how quickly they grew!  

and grew...

and grew!...

I have also been thinking of potting Violets or Lilly of the Valley to bring inside!  

Happy gardening everyone and for us in the Southern Hemisphere,  I think Spring has definitely arrived!


  1. Well for a first time at this Jenny it's certainly been a success. The tulips are amazing and of course the bowl certainly enhances them. Thank you for writing about the process. I know from the photo's they certainly enhance a room on a miserable day.
    I love to plant annuals in pots for summer so I'd better get busy there so lovely to have around when your entertaining.
    When I did think about bulbs I'd left my run to late but there's always next year.
    My garden has had a lot of much need attention this winter. It had been sadly neglect for a couple of years with my husband being so sick trying to work and keep the home fires burning. We have both worked together on the garden ( something other than structural things my husband had no interest in before now ) planting , spreading mulch and levelling a lawn. Fingers crossed for a good result that will make all the work and aching back worth it.

    1. Thank you Karen and I'm sure that all of your hard work will prove to be so rewarding when Summer arrives. How lovely that you both worked together in the garden. There is no greater pleasure! xx

  2. I didn't know you could dig up bulbs after they started sprouting, thanks for that tip. I have been watching and enjoying those coloured tulips growing on Instagram, Sue Fogarty

    1. Hi Susie! I didn't know either until I tried it! I think the reason it works is that all the bulb needs is inside of it and provided one moves it carefully, it will succeed! I have adored watching the tulips grow and grow and am SO looking forward to planning what I will bring inside next year!.... A gardener must be an eternal optimist! xx

    2. I didn't know this either, Sue! I'm looking forward to having a go next year

  3. It looks so darling and I tried to do this just this past winter but none of them sprouted - i thought our winters would be cold enough but no apparently it's bc i didnt' put them in the fridge.

    I am thinking of planting some bulbs at the end of this month.

    But quick question - not all of yiour bowls have holes in them right? I was reading somewhere you needed drain holes but they sell ready planted ones with bowls included at M&s and waitrose over here but they didn't have any holes.

    1. Hi Naomi, The refrigeration is to 'trick' the bulb into believing that they are experiencing winter. I guess one could buy bulbs, put them into the fridge for some weeks, and then plant them into a container and bring inside, thus creating 'spring' when they then begin to sprout and flower! None of my bowls have holes in them and I watered gingerly and carefully. Some I hardly watered at all. I don't really think they need that much water really. I think I might try the fridge idea for some of them next year! xx

  4. So divine. I just can't grow any bulbs except hippeastrums…jealous. I love that coloured bowl so much x

    1. I bet if you put bulbs into the fridge for about 8 weeks, you would be able to grow them indoors or outdoors!!.... you should really try next winter! xx

  5. Wow, so very elegant. Looks fantastic. You do have a fantastic hand for decorations and style! Great! Realy love what I see!
    Happy days


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