Sunday, December 18, 2011

Paperwhites and daffodils for Christmas gifts

Paperwhite bulbs.Lucy mercer/A Cook and Her Books
When you run into the Lowe's or Home Depot or your favorite garden center this week, looking for an extra string of lights, or a discounted wreath, find the display of fall bulbs. I bet you'll find a few bags of beautiful tulip, daffodil and paperwhite bulbs, priced to sell. If you have a few extra minutes in the Christmas rush and crush, you may put some into the ground, or you can make lovely gifts for friends and family.

Paperwhite bulbs. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
First, paperwhites: these fragrant blooms take really well to indoor forcing. Pick up a bag of gravel while you're at the Depot and find a few shallow dishes around your house. I prefer sealed ceramic dishes for this - the saucer will need constant watering and unsealed terra cotta will ruin the surface underneath. Gently place gravel in container, nestle the paperwhite bulbs among the stones, and add water. Because of the moisture factor, I keep these in my sunny kitchen and bathroom, where I can monitor the water level daily. If you're giving these away, don't add water, and wrap with cellophane and a pretty bow and add instructions for water and light.

Paperwhites in gravel container. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books

You can also take the smaller approach and gather a few jelly and canning jars for a collection of bulbs. Just place a few pieces of gravel in the bottom, fill with a bit of dirt, then add a bulb. I found this idea on Wenderly's site and she recommends not watering right away, but placing the jars with bulbs in a dark place for a few days to encourage root growth, then bringing out the jars, putting in a bit of water and watching the bulbs grow.

Paperwhite bulbs in jars.Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
I found daffodils marked down 75 percent at Lowe's (half off at Home Depot), and decided to use them for teacher gifts. Very simple here, and it's easy to set up assembly-line style. Clean pot, gravel in bottom, 5 or 6 bulbs place upright on gravel. Fill in with potting soil and pat down the soil.

Daffodil bulbs in pots. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
Wrap with cellophane. Tie with a pretty gold ribbon (I buy gold and silver ribbon after the holidays and have a stash of lovely wired ribbon to use throughout the year.)

Daffodil pots. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
The daffodil pots were given to teachers and family this year. I have a few extras on hand, for last-minute and unexpected gifts.

Christmas is all about new beginnings - a baby, new life for those who believe. And a planter full of the promise of spring will make a wonderful Christmas gift.

Text and images copyright 2011, Lucy Mercer.


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Though the smell of paperwhites overwhelms me, a pot of bulbs makes such a lovely gift, more meaningful and lasting than food. Great idea.

Cheese In My Hair said...

Love it! Can't wait to "try this at home". Merry Christmas!