Over the last few posts, this discussion has partially devolved (in comments at least) into climate comparisons and other weather-related talk. Such is the nature of online conversations, but just to reiterate, I’m merely saying that for me, where I live, designing my outside garden for winter interest, as many, including Evelyn, recommend, makes little sense. That’s the myth part.
I find my own definition of winter interest in plenty of other places however, both outside and in, mainly in. Bulb forcing (potting, repotting, moving, general maintenance) keeps me plenty busy on most weekends, and I’ve been able to talk friends into experiments. First, I give them pots of bulbs as gifts. The gateway drugs are the common tazettas/paperwhites you can buy everywhere, but I always get slower-growing hybrids that have better flower forms and milder scents. Then there are the hyacinths and tulips—people are finding that even if there is no root cellar, a cold attic (which many of our old houses have) works well for chilling periods. This form of off-season gardening was common gardening practice through the early twentieth century.
Because I give away the pots that seem farthest along (less chance of failure), I’m getting reports of blooms from all over Buffalo, including my hairdresser, who has parrot tulips coming up (see above). My own are slower—in fact, my favorite indoor flower right now is not a bulb, but an accidental sprout from an ornamental kale stalk I cut into two pieces and used as filler in a holiday centerpiece. It now has a foot-high flower stalk with little yellow blooms.
So far, the in-house forcing tally includes:
-100 tulips, mainly doubles, parrots, Prinses Irene, and something called Golden Artist (about 40 of these are in 2 large pots)
-30 various, including amaryllis, tazettas, other narcissus (requiring chilling period), and 1 scilla madarensis, an interesting gift from Longfield gardens
That’s more than enough to keep me interested until spring.