There’s a disturbing and annoying triumvirate of ‘shoulds’ which tend to pile up for me around the end of November, and they go something like this:
1. I should have written (and addressed) all the Christmas Cards.
2. I should have bought (and wrapped) all the Christmas presents
3. I should have planted all my bulbs (both indoor and out)
The truth is, that I have done none of the above. The Christmas cards will get written, addressed and sent in the second week of December sometime, if I am lucky. Some years they get sent out as New Year Cards. Nobody cares.
The Christmas presents will get wrapped on the evening of 24th December. I will forget somebody and end up promising to get them something early in the new year. This will never happen, and they will not care.
The bulbs will go in progressively, when I have five minute bursts of freedom between the beginning of December and late February. They will eventually catch up with everyone else’s, and the garden will not care.
As I get older, I realise slowly that the more ‘shoulds’ I have, the less I actually get done; the ‘should’ leeches the joy out of it all, and the rebel inside me just won’t have it. She sabotages every ‘should’, stamping her foot resolutely, and eating another slice of cake.
You’re not like that though, are you…(are you?) It matters not, either way, because you can pot up amaryllis at pretty much any time in the winter and watch it zoom into green, rocketing glory over the next twenty days or so before your very eyes. I love it, and will get going on mine over the next few days (big, fat, juicy bulbs are waiting for me in an unheated room…they will need nothing other than to be soaked briefly and plonked unceremoniously into pots (see below). For illustrative purposes though, here are some I did a couple of years ago. The photos are by Jill Mead, which is why they are beauteous, unlike my own.
Hippeastrum to lift your winter blues and turn them deep, velvet red.
I love red Hippeastrum (by the way, amaryllis is just another name for it). White is fine, but I really get a kick out of that thick, velvety red that looks like the curtains from a tart’s boudoir….but that’s just me. You can get them sweetly tinged pink at the edges (as above) if that floats your boat, or crazily veined with red. These kits are a lovely present for difficult people…particularly children of a certain age, I find – say between the ages of six and ten. Quite seriously though, you could kill many birds with one stone and give everyone a hippeastrum. A neighbour of mine does this, wrapping them up in clear cellophane with pretty ribbons, and that’s her Christmas, sorted.
Hippeastrum bulbs – as many as you can afford. One on its own looks lonely and sad.
Pots – I like to put each bulb in its own pot so I can have them in configurations throughout the house. For this use ordinary terracotta, and I’m always guided by the diameter of my bulbs (you don’t need a lot of room around the edge, just a nice lot of space for the roots). Having said that though, a large pot such as the Lucca pot, crammed with hippeastrum would be a real sight to behold, and if I had the space indoors, (like in my next life, when I will be a Duchess), I’d definitely be doing that.
Compost – I use a mixture of two thirds John Innes No. 2 and one-third multi-purpose.
Fill a big bowl with luke-warm water and soak your bulbs for a couple of hours.
Mix up your compost and plant your bulbs roots-down, only half-submerging them. You want half the bulb to be out and proud at the top of your compost.
Water the whole thing well and leave your pot in a cool bright room, (unheated please) or on your porch if you’re lucky enough to have one. No frost will be tolerated, so don’t risk it.
…keep the pots watered and very soon you’ll get that stunning flower you’ve been waiting for; at which point everyone will think you’re fabulous, despite the fact that you didn’t get anything done on time.