When spring seems to be taking forever to arrive, I take matters into my own hands and add a few pots of flowering spring bulbs to the kitchen windowsill. But I’ve never been keen on those sad plastic pots filled with sodden potting soil. Here’s an easy trick for making spring bulbs light up with colour and shine using clear glass vases and coloured glass beads. The bulbs will sit proud of the water line and the beads will support the bulbs so not only do you get an eye-catching display, you won’t run the risk of bulbs starting to rot in soil that’s too wet.
You can match the glass beads to the flowers (pink beads with pink hyacinths, for instance) but I like the rich, more naturalistic look of green and brown beads. Have fun choosing the vases, too. You can plant up bulbs this way in wide-brimmed, shallow vases, like the one you see below and not worry about the plants flopping over because the beads keep the bulbs and roots firmly in position. A single bulb planted in a traditional urn-shaped vase echoes the look of Victorian specimen plants.
First, gently pull the clump of bulbs out of each pot. Then brush away the soil while carefully pulling the bulbs apart. I usually find that the roots untangle surprisingly easily. Give each bulb with its roots a quick rinse under the tap to get rid of any big chunks of dirt around the roots but it’s not necessary to have the plant spotless. Pair up your bulb or bulbs to your selected vases. You can plant up a group of bulbs in one vase or pair up one bulb per vase–it’s up to you. Add a handful of beads to the bottom of the vase. Holding the plants by their stems, insert into the vase so that the roots dangle down and touch the bed of beads. Pour more beads into the vase while holding the bulbs in position, jiggling the vase around if you need so that the beads fall in between the roots. Keep adding beads until the bulbs are sitting on them, then add some more around the sides of the bulbs. Then add water so that the roots are submerged but the water line doesn’t hit the bottom of the bulbs. And there you have it! Keep your plants well watered, just making sure the bottoms of the bulbs aren’t sitting in water.
And if you don’t want to get your hands dirty or just want even more sparkle, try this easy arrangement using pussy willows, glass beads and a battery-operated candle with timer. Make sure the candle is set to turn on at the right time before making this arrangement. Then just place a bed of beads in a tall vase. Place the candle on top of the beads. Then push the willow branches deep into the beads. Fill with water so that the ends of the branches are immersed in water but the candle still sits above the water line. Enjoy!