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Warming Trend

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As holiday merriment wanes and festive decorations go back into storage, winter can become a cheerless season. Without the anticipation of Christmas and its many merry traditions, winter shows itself to be austere and cold. Days are terribly short, and my mood trudges lower and lower, finally stopping at a blah sort of apathy. And spring is still a few months away.

It is at a time like this that the smallest reminder of a coming spring is so important, so welcome.

My local garden center is selling deeply discounted forcing bulbs right now. Paperwhite daffodil bulbs, Amaryllis bulbs and hyacinth bulbs sit in half-off bins, mostly forgotten. These bulbs are a popular purchase a few months before Christmas because people force them to bloom just in time for holiday entertaining. They make great hostess gifts and look so bright and cheery sitting on your coffee table.

I snapped up some paperwhite bulbs the other day because I could really go for a growing, living thing right now and I think it will make a bright pick-me-up gift for a friend of mine. Forcing bulbs is so easy (and done my way: cheap!). Sticking to paperwhites and amaryllis bulbs (which do not need a refrigeration-induced “winter” period), the process is as easy as 1-2-3.

1. After putting a drainage layer (pebbles or broken pot shards) at the bottom of your pot, fill 2/3 full with potting soil.

2. Place your bulb root side down on the potting soil. (The pointed side should point up.)

3. Fill the pot with potting soil until your bulb is about 2/3 covered.

Now put your bulb in a sunny window and water as needed. Paperwhites bloom in about 4-6 weeks. Amaryllis bulbs, though not as cheap as paperwhite daffodils are a beautiful option, too. And the red amaryllis bulbs that sit in the Christmas clearance aisle can be forced to bloom just in time for Valentine’s Day (aren’t we clever?)

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I found this (Crate & Barrel!) Italian terra cotta pot curbside* last summer and it looks glorious in my kitchen, like I’m really cool enough to buy something so Old World-fabulous at some chic garden boutique (I am not). After potting the bulb, I sprinkled a little bit of crushed glass glitter on the potting soil for a bit of daffodil bulb bling (did I really just say that?!) and added a cheery note for my friend. This type of tag is so easy to make and it turns a humble plant into a hostess gift, or thank you gift or whatever. Cut or punch a circle from a paper scrap, write your note, and impale on a decorative toothpick. Simple, but simply fabulous.

Bring it, winter!

* “Curbside” is my friendly way of saying, “While driving down the street, I spotted some wonderfully rejected treasure, threw my car in reverse, and shoved all pride aside as I hopped out, took something out of someone’s garbage and brought it home.”