When the days are short and the weather is dull it’s lovely to have some Spring bulbs in the house, blooming and filling the air with their sweet scent to remind us that the warmer weather is really just around the corner. If you’d like some hyacinths in your hallway or daffodils on your dining table for Christmas then now is the time to think about exactly what you’d like to have and how you will display them.
Once you have decided on what flowers you’d like, think about the containers to put them in. Baskets, of all sizes, lined with thick plastic to make them waterproof are the most obvious but any container given a similar treatment would look equally beautiful.
You will need to buy ‘prepared’ bulbs for Christmas flowering – bulbs that have been specially treated to speed up their growth. I’d recommend using commercially prepared bulb fibre for potting, especially for containers where there are no drainage holes. (If you want to use regular potting compost make sure that it is open textured and free draining).
Put some well soaked bulb fibre (or potting compost) into your pot or container, leaving enough space to allow the bulbs to be placed inside with the tips just below the rim of the container. The bulbs can be placed close together but should not be touching. Cover with bulb fibre and water well. The container should then be placed in a cool spot such as a shed, or in a shady corner of the garden. Darkness is not essential but a cool temperature is. Do not put in a black plastic sack as this only encourages mould.
After 10-12 weeks young green shoots should start to appear (these will be paler if the pot has been kept in the dark). When the shoots have reached about 5cm (2 ins) in height, bring the pot into a cool room and they should flower in time for Christmas. Spring flowering bulbs at Christmas, planted in pretty containers, make a lovely gift.
Caution: The bulbs of Daffodil, Hyacinth and Narcissus are poisonous so please practise basic care by washing your hands when you have handled them.
We’re turning ourselves inside out this weekend, preparing for the invasion of workmen in this coming week. It was all to be very organised and properly scheduled but rather typically events have conspired to make several things happen all at once. Never mind – I keep telling myself it will all look fabulous when it’s done!
I’m just dropping by to tell you that I’ve posted the recipe for Rachel Allen’s yummy Chocolate (Easter) Tart over at Voix Douce. If you have more time on your hands than me, it’s well worth doing!
Wishing all my friends and contacts here on the web a very happy and peaceful Easter weekend.
‘I’m sending you a message,
Wishing you every good,
May the fairy-folk work overtime,
To bring you all they should.’
Antique Easter postcard, c1900-1910
By now you will hopefully have started to clear away a lot of the junk you’ve collected throughout the year, have a good idea of what ingredients you have in the kitchen cupboards and what you may need to buy. If you use a traditional butchers’ shop, you have also ordered your turkey plus any other meats for Christmas.
Stick with the seasonal tidying / clearing out and now is a good time to start buying non-perishable goods for the holiday – party nibbles like tins of nuts, alcohol, selection tins of biscuits etc. Again, spreading the cost of these extras over a few weeks is less painful than buying it all in one fell swoop.
Wrap Christmas presents as you buy them.
I’m not going to be giving a separate reminder to post your Christmas cards but please bear in mind that the last posting date for friends and family in far flung places may be coming fairly soon. If you’re in the UK, for example, bear in mind that Friday of next week (5th December) is the last day for air mail to Australia and New Zealand. In other words, it may be sooner than you realised!
If you look around and find yourself thinking that there is too much clutter surrounding you, just imagine how much worse it will look at Christmas with decorations adorning the house, the cupboards stuffed with extra seasonal food and the arrival of new items in the way of gifts.
It’s no bad idea, therefore to have a seasonal tidy up. Throw away/recycle anything that is just plain rubbish. Christmas, and the period leading up to it, is obviously an extremely important time for local charities. Any quality items that you think might be of use to someone else should therefore be taken to charity shops.
Have a tidy up of your kitchen cupboards. Check ‘consume by dates’ and throw away anything old. Be honest and dispose of the ‘tail end’ of anything you were keeping, but which you know in your heart you are unlikely to use. Stand back and admire the amount of space you now have …. except that now, of course, is the time to top up with replacement items that you may need in the coming weeks!
It’s also a good idea to do a mental check list of what cooking implements you might need. Replace anything broken or badly worn and if you need anything like new roasting tins, buy them now.
- Keep on with the buying of Christmas gifts. Wrap and set aside as you go along.