Stop and Smell the Hyacinths

Annoying. I can’t do this right now. Not because I’m too busy, but because I’ve been nasally challenged for the entire month of January. Felled by a virus at the beginning of the month and still drooping now because of it.

Thing is I have my own little potted garden miracle that has been happening every time this year for the last 4 years or so. In January I CRAVE little pots (yes, large ones too) of hyacinths, crocuses, tulips. But especially hyacinths. Because the scent is particularly life-giving.

I don’t love hyacinths for the flowers, which are after all, a little awkward. They don’t have the simplicity and majesty of tulips, or the sheer ridiculous optimism of crocuses or daffodils. I love them for the heady, transporting scent. That dose of heaven that almost convinces you that winter will end at some point in the not-too-distant future.

hyacinthsHere’s the miracle part. To justify spending the amount on forced bulbs (because it really is an expensive way to buy bulbs) I tell myself that I will replant the bulbs in the garden and let them grow on.

In the past I have been fairly good at planting these bulbs, but for the last couple of years I got busy or lazy, or distracted…..or something.

Anyway I had 3 or 4 hyacinths that stayed in their pots all summer. I let them stay there, baking in their pots and kept watering them, when I remembered, thinking I’d plant them in the ground eventually. Then when fall came I was too busy bringing geraniums and perennials indoors and didn’t have time to plant them. So I brought them inside too. (I’m lucky that I have an unheated porch that is kept from freezing where I overwinter all my plants.)

The common wisdom is that bulbs will only “force” once. Meaning once they’ve done their Over-Achieving Best for you in a pot, it’s game over. Your options are: Toss them on the compost or plant them in the garden. You might get a flower next year, but don’t expect miracles.

Well, I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition. I mean I didn’t expect a miracle, but I got one.

First leaves, but bulbs will make leaves pretty easily. But then up came a flower stalk, and not a mingy little one either, a fairly robust one. Then….cue angel chorus…. flowers!! And for the last few years in January I’ve been getting these hyacinths to rebloom in the same pots with almost no effort. (Or planning) This is another wonderful thing about gardening. That laziness can pay off.

So here’s the annoying part. I can’t smell the buggers this year. I’ll think have to get Helen over for some hyacinth appreciation, so they won’t be blooming without an audience.


  1. Just looking for a nice, juicy new post on gardens. Please… convince me that it actually is springtime!

    State of my garden: All the plant leaves that pushed up before the cold returned have had their points chewed off by my puppy.

You might also like