Forcing Bulbs

From my highly organized gardening notes, in other words, The Garden Blog archives, I can see that I planted my bulbs last year on this date. By early March, the hyacinths did well and produced fragrant blooms, and the Narcissus had rotted.

The Clemson Extension has great notes on forcing bulbs, and I see there that the paper white narcissus don't even need to be cooled. I've seen cute displays of these flowers in shallow bowls of gravel, so that's a fun project to try this year. Directions from the Clemson archives:

"Start by filling an undrained decorative bowl or dish that is at least 2 to 3 inches deep with enough pebbles, pea gravel, coarse sand or pearl chips to reach about 1 inch below the top. Add water until it is barely below the surface of the gravel. Set the bulbs on top and hold in place with enough gravel to cover the bottom quarter of each bulb. Carefully maintain that water level.

Tender Narcissus are best kept in a cool 50 to 60 F location in low light until they are well-rooted and the shoots appear, usually in about two to three weeks."

I also plan to pick up a few hyacinths. For hyacinths I plant them in dirt and leave them about 12 weeks in my fridge before pulling them out.

And now for a random thought. I don't like the word "forcing". How about "gentle encouragement of earlier flower time by creating artificial conditions." Well that doesn't acknowledge the fact that early blooming is usually against the plant's best interests, and so many of these bulbs don't come back the next year. I feel like a plant imperialist. Sigh.


Calling all shutterbugs

I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of the SLR digital camera I ordered last week. Like many of you fellow garden bloggers, I'm looking forward to taking upclose pictures of plants and insects in the garden.

Meanwhile, does anyone have any advice on macro lenses? Or garden photography in general? I'm not very familiar with photography techniques and equipment. My method of getting good pictures of Nelumbo Jr. is to take about 200 pictures a day, and usually I'll end up with one worth keeping!