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  Archived Posts From: 2012

historical-hobbyist

The Historical Hobbyist 1.2

Written on: October 31st, 2012 in Historical HobbyistHorticulture

Winter Gardening and the Forced Bloom:

Bulb Trays and Flower Pots

By Edward McWilliams, HCA Curator of Exhibits & C.A.R.E. Team Manager

In our previous article from the Historical Hobbyist, we discussed the seasonal pastime of forcing bulbs to bloom in the winter. Of the four containers that this technique involves, we covered Bulb Jars and Flower Bricks. In today’s article, we finish up with Bulb Trays and Flower Pots.

Bulb Trays

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bulb trays are heavy pottery or ceramic trays with shallow interiors designed to hold bulbs. Flower trays work well for larger arrangements of bulbs or make for spectacular displays of multi-bloom flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also use other flower vases and pots (with no holes) to fill with small pebbles (pea gravel works well – rinse sand from the stones) and even multi-colored marbles. The process is easy and takes very few steps to complete.

As above, I fill the containers with the stone, add water, and gently push the bulbs into the stones with the points facing up. Make certain that the tray always has water up to the bottom of the bulbs. That is all!

Again, place the containers in a cool place for four to six weeks, move to a sunny window and, depending on the temperature and plant variety, you should have blooms in a week or two depending on the room temperature.

It may be necessary to push the bulb into the stone as the plants mature to help the plant stay secured. Additional supports, such as skewers, can be used to tether the plant and keep it upright. Just push the skewers into the stones and tie the plants with twine.

I recommend paper whites narcissus, jonquils, and mixed color hyacinths for this presentation.

Flower Pots

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I am ambitious and have more time on my hands, I pot lily of the valley, crocus, miniature iris, grape hyacinths, and ranunculus into small clay flowerpots. I fill the pots with potting soil and place the bulbs and rhizomes just three quarters of the way below the surface of the soil. The tips of the bulbs should be seen on the surface of the soil.

Water the bulbs and always keep the soil moist. Again – a sunny, warm bright window is the catalyst to trick the plants into thinking it is spring and you will be pleased with the effort you invested back in October.

In the past I have combined several of the plants into one pot and, when they bloom, place the pot into a small plastic container that fits into an antique jardinière or vase and line the top with sphagnum moss to cover the top of the liner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is important to pre- chill the bulbs in all of the described forcing methods.  In order to simulate springtime condition, bulbs should be previously placed in a cold place for several weeks, preferably six.

Sometimes I place the bulbs in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator or in a potting shed. An unheated garage can also provide the necessary conditions of 35F to 45F temperatures.

I must confess that on occasion I have skipped the pre-chilling part and gone directly to forcing in the containers with the same success.

In addition to the bulbs, some flowering shrubs can also be forced to bloom and can compliment your display.

I cut branches of quince and forsythia in January, place them in a large vase, add water and a warm spot, and within a week blooms appear on the branches. I have attached small artificial cardinals and sparrows to the branches for a natural appearance.

I hope you try one or two of the suggestions above.

If you do – blog us with your comments, suggestions and pictures!

 

Edward McWilliams is a Delaware native currently residing in Laurel, Del. He holds a bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of Delaware and a master’s degree in arts management from American University. McWilliams joined HCA in 1996, was named Delaware Department of State’s Employee of the Year in 2009, and currently serves the state in dual roles as Curator of Exhibits and C.A.R.E. Team Manager.


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historical-hobbyist

The Historical Hobbyist 1.1

Written on: October 24th, 2012 in Historical HobbyistHorticulture

Winter Gardening and the Forced Bloom:

Bulb Jars and Flower Bricks

By Edward McWilliams, HCA Curator of Exhibits & C.A.R.E. Team Manager

When you mention the month “October,” do you think pumpkins, gourds, and scarecrows? I think spring flowers blooming in winter! Yes, October is the time to start bulbs indoors for wintertime blooms.

Imagine entering your home from the frigid cold outside to the scent of spring flowers in the months of December and January.  Hyacinths, narcissus, and even crocus, tulips, and lily of the valley can be made to bloom indoors.

The hobby of forcing plants to bloom combines two of my interests – gardening and decorative arts. Its history dates back as early as the 18th century. This indoor gardening technique involves four different containers: bulb jars, flower bricks, bulb trays and clay pots.

Bulb Jars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Specially designed bulb jars were made by glassblowers to support the bulb on the top portion of the container just over the waterline-level. They were designed to have a wide top to “cradle” the bulb and a narrow neck for the roots to travel to the base.  Reproductions are available; however, I have also used a variety of containers that can hold water and have an opening to support the bulb.

If the opening is too large, I sometimes tie four wooden skewers together to decrease the diameter, just enough to hold the bulb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I keep the vases in a dark, cool room for about four to six weeks.

During this time the roots are developing and you may see the beginning of several leaves appear at the top of the bulb. This signals that the container should be moved to a bright, warm, sunny window to expedite growth. You will be surprised at how quickly the plant will develop.

Blooms should appear in approximately two to three weeks when brought into the light.

I find that white, blue, and yellow hyacinths produce beautiful blooms.  When the plants have finished blooming I wrap the bulbs in paper towels and place them in the garage to plant in the spring. I have had success with the bulbs blooming again, sometimes the same year as being planted!

Flower Bricks


 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These ceramic containers are designed to hold bulbs and supports. The size of the hole will determine the type of plant based on bulb size that the container can accommodate. The process is similar to the bulb jar. Fill the container with water until the water touches the base of the bulb. As the bulb grows, monitor the water lever so that the roots always stay in the water.

Check back next week (or subscribe through the sidebar link to the right), and we will continue with Bulb Trays and Flower Pots!

So what does October mean to you? Apple cider? Baseball? Yard work?

 

Edward McWilliams is a Delaware native currently residing in Laurel, Del. He holds a bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of Delaware and a master’s degree in arts management from American University. McWilliams joined HCA in 1996, was named Delaware Department of State’s Employee of the Year in 2009, and currently serves the state in dual roles as Curator of Exhibits and C.A.R.E. Team Manager.


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exhibits

Animating Delaware History: The State Seal

Written on: October 8th, 2012 in ExhibitsMuseums

 

It’s the HCA Blog Premier of “Animating Delaware History!”

We’ve been doing some work with our Delaware State Seal exhibit at The Old State House and our resident animator, Bradley Dotson, came up with a creative twist to the story behind the Seal:

 

Of course, this isn’t really how our State Seal came to be… but it’s an imaginative take on it.

If you want the real story, visit the Old State House museum in Dover.

What do you think? What moments and characters would you like to see animated from Delaware’s history?



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