My potted collection of alpine bulbs greets visitors this weekend at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden first annual Spring Flower Show.
It’s a feeling one gets when you are bundled up, your face hurts from the frigid wind but your eyes glimpse a site – it’s “oh, thank GOD” colors of the William Sonoma catalog. With icky, brown snow and icy grey icicles reaching to the ground, regardless of ones religion or nationality the tones of robin-egg blue and pale pink – the commercial tints of the Easter season sooths us, or at the very least, it provides a bit of hope that this ‘arctic vortex’ might actually come to an end.
We humans are fickly, though. Spot Halloween decor in late August and we Facebook about it. Catch the first glimpse of red foil Valentines hearts before Christmas (really – another red holiday?) and we groan, and God forbid if we see Christmas wrap in September, or better yet – Back-To-School supplies in July – see this and all Hell breaks lose on Instagram and Twitter, but something happens to us when we spot those soothing tones of ‘preemy’ Peeps, custard yellow Kitchen Aid mixers and pale blue Cadbury eggs. I feel that big business has not capitalized enough on the value of what I call ‘seasonal hope’.
But then… we stop into a supermarket after a long day of work to find something for dinner and our noses note a specific scent – 82% Diorisimo, 15% dirt – and 3% bunny piss – but 100% spring. Not so deep within each of us we are reminded that: yes, we are still human beings.
Hyacinths can do that.

The back of the Suburban is packed with bulbs. First, Joe heated the vehicle for nearly an hour as it was so cold, while I set up the boxes in the studio before it was time to run them out to the truck. Joe manned the door on the Suburban, so that I could get the tender bulbs into the heat fast, as flowers can freeze in seconds in this weather.

If you are just about ready to give up on winter, I have the perfect cure. Go to a flower show. This weekend you have a few choices with the kids during this vacation week:.You can shovel snow and go skiing, or drive into the city, find parking and walk through sub-zero temperatures to sit in a frozen ice stadium as see Disney’s ‘Frozon’ on Ice, or you can go to a spring flower show and walk through warm, humid tropical greenhouses and inhale the hyacinths. If you are in New England and happen to have a bit of cabin fever, the later is going to help. Treat yourself, you know that you want to.

We rushed bulbs into the display areas at Tower Hill on carts. Here are a few bulbs waiting to be staged.
I saw Asparagus at the market yesterday, and it looked decidedly non-Chilean, a sign that the first of the northern hemispheric crops are being harvested (indeed, this asparagus was the first picking from California); and although we are expecting another 6 inches of snow later today here in the Boston area, there is no holding back the spring bulbs which have spent the winter under glass. Hot cross buns are at the market also, and the better oranges ( the larger Mandarin crosses which cost nearly $2.00 each are out too), but spring remains missing. I need a good dose of something, right now.

Our final display of tulips and hyacinths – I wanted to use the brightest and newest varieties of hyacinths like ‘Woodstock’, a deep magenta purple variety.

We’ve finished setting up our displays of forced spring bulbs which will be on display this weekend and through the end of the month at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden (located just an hours drive from Boston). Come visit, and escape. I have no idea how I was able to get most of our bulbs to bloom on time, but somehow, they did. As you have read before in a few posts, they were rushed in and out of the greenhouse – under lights, and then back out to the cold – and being away for a week in New York didn’t help much either. You can force bulbs at home easily, as these bulbs spent most of their forcing time in some bay windows in the house – so I don’t want to hear those “but I don’t have a greenhouse’ excuses. You CAN do it. Plan on it next year.

Muscari on display – just a selection of commercial varieties of hyacinths available from most Dutch bulb catalogs in the fall. You might think that tall muscari, or Grape hyacinths look the same, but when viewed up close and against their peers, one can spot all of the subtle differences in tone and scent.


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