HELEN LANG: It’s never too early to dream of a new spring

A gift of a huge amaryllis bulb requires plenty of light and water — and something to keep it upright.

Another simply wonderful day again today.

Winter seems to have missed the boat this year and we are going to escape the snow and ice, so many of the rest of this beautiful country are experiencing.

I did ‘touch wood’ to prevent anything nasty happening as a result of my hasty remark above.

Mind you, we do have a couple of months to go before we can safely expect spring, but it is the beginning of another year and new beginnings are always an exciting  mystery.

Yet, we can hope for crocus and snow drops by mid-February and exciting flowers by March, so the winter that wasn’t may still be a possibility.

There is always El Nino y’know, but don’t hold your breath, waiting.

I’ve probably already mentioned potting up a lot of crocus in four-inch pots to give to the members of the so-called “writers group,” and maybe this is the time to hand them out.No buds yet, but  they are up and growing nicely out on the balcony. They are used to the outdoors and should require a minimum of care (maybe some water twice a week, or pray for rain).

It’s a lovely time of year, full of expectations of nice horticultural things to come!

Also nice things time-wise — every day is three minutes longer than it was yesterday. I did the math and that works out to an hour-and-a- half longer each month until June. (If I’m wrong please don’t tell me, it is so exciting  to dream of an early spring!).

I was given a huge amaryllis bulb as a delightful Christmas gift.

I must get it started by setting the bulb just over half its height, in soil.

The bulb seems to enjoy the light on its body (trying for an early sun-tan, do you think?).

Water it well and then at least once a week until it produces the tip of a leaf. From then on, once a week should still be enough — but keep the bulb in a sunny window and turn its pot regularly so it doesn’t develop a mad desire to lean in one direction and end up with its huge leaves lying flat on the window sill and it’s pot spilling dirt all over the new carpet.

It will almost certainly require a stake to keep it upright. And putting the stake in early will save forcing it down through growing roots.

It is a glorious sight when in bloom, so treat it well, please.

PS: It may need to be watered more often but you can judge that, I’m sure.


Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.