The winter months are long and weary, and for many of us spring simply cannot come soon enough. Spring, in fact, is my favorite season because it symbolizes conception, new beginnings. I love how sprites of warmth infuse the cold air. Then there are the flowers: Crocuses, daffodils, cherry blossoms, forsythia, magnolias, tulips, and of course, the sweetest smelling cone-shaped flower ever, the lovely hyacinth.
Forget the groundhog; spring can come early with hyacinth bulbs:
For the past several years my father has been, in essence, ‘raising’ or the less preferred term, ‘forcing’ bulbs. In mid-to-late fall he places the young bulbs in a dark, cold place—such as a basement refrigerator—and leaves them there for 8 to 10 weeks. This tricks the flower that it is winter and is underground, waiting to emerge.
Once they reach approximately four inches, my dad removes them from the cool area and brings them into a warm room in the house (hence, the flower now thinks it is spring and will slowly being to bloom). Finally, Dad places them in an hour-glass shaped vase with the base of the bulb (where the roots form) resting in water.
It is best to keep the flowers near a window where a good source of sunlight is evident. Rotate the vase every so often to increase exposure. Continue to fill the water to just below the base when needed.
The directions on the back of this box reveal a similar method for the process:
This year for Christmas (like many years past) my father gave me a bulb that had been sitting on the cold, raw front porch since before Thanksgiving. When I brought it home I put it in its vase and placed it on the window sill over my kitchen sink.
It’s already starting to bloom:
Look at those roots, aren’t they beautiful? Eventually they make their way to the bottom of the vase and curl in on themselves.
This has become a very calming, January tradition of mine. Each day I watch as the bulb produces a green tip, followed by hearty green stalks, and finally, a bushel of colorful (by the way, it’s fun to wait and see which color surfaces) petals with a smell that perfumes the entire kitchen.
I’m not above assigning a symbolic element to the hyacinth. With the stages of its growth, it’s like watching the life cycle at work. It’s born, it transforms, it reaches maturity, and unfortunately, it perishes. But never without the potential for complete regeneration the following year.
This Saturday, enjoy the force of life at work. And calm down would you?