WVOTA News

paperwhite bloomsPaperwhites, or Narcissus tazetta, are those fragrant, winter-blooming bulbs that are grown indoors. Inside each bulb is everything that's needed to produce a living bouquet of beautiful flowers. Simply put the bulbs in a container, add water, and they'll be blooming in just 3 to 4 weeks. These lovely flowers are the birth flower for those born in December and symbolizes good wishes, faithfulness and respect.  More, for many of us, paperwhites are the bright blossoms of hope, blooms that burst forward in defiance of the winter solstice, midwinter, when earth’s poles tilt to their farthest arc away from the sun. Midwinter, the sun at her lowest as might be one’s spirits  too at the longest and darkest of days.

Growing paperwhites midwinter is called ‘forcing’.  Beginning in the days when I lived in Boston, we would place the dormant bulbs into pots of water and pebbles, sunk into clear glass vases, and set out somewhat defiantly onto the window sill, barriers between the inner world of warm coziness and the bitter, snowy sills on the other side of the glass.  Seeing a 2 foot tall stalk with triumphant flowers in front of long ice cycles and frost is a reason for optimism.  I’m not much of a gardener, inheriting little of my mother’s bright green thumb but even I can grow paperwhites.  And watching the roots grow in  is almost as much fun as watching the flowers open. 

But this year I learned something new from the paperwhites – First I tried using colorful water beads, those tiny little orbs that grow and swell when immersed in water, instead of rocks and water for my growing medium.  The bedding evoked no hint of green sprouts from the bulbs.  Eventually, I transferred the beads and bulbs into a tall glass vase, added green and gold and red sparkly beads for the holiday.  Two weeks later, I had 6 bulbs with ¼ inch of sprouting.  Moving the beads and bulbs again to a large shallow glass forced about another ½ inch growth over the following two weeks.  At last I removed the bulbs, tossed the beads, filled small mason jars with river rock and water, and transplanted the bulbs once more, securing them with a wire top to guide and stabilize the sprouting I was still optimistically awaiting. 

In two days, they began to grow, one shooting forward with 4 inches of green fronds.  If you haven’t forced paperwhites in midwinter, you will think I’m exaggerating but those familiar will recognize the exuberant, irrepressible magic of the
Narcissus tazetta. 

Ah, the promise of paperwhites – growth in the face of little hope.  But this year, they bring me another lesson – that one needs fertile soil for their magic. 

As we look out into 2019, I am reminded by these unprepossessing bulbs to take the time to self-assess and to ask often, ‘is this fertile ground for my magic?”  I write this to invite you too to ask this of yourself, your circumstances, your job, your relationship and of the work we each do as part of our day to day occupational engagement, ‘will this be fertile ground for the magic I have within?” 

Happiest of new years to you all – I look forward to seeing the magic of WVOTA bear many blossoms in the upcoming year. 

Southern Living https://www.southernliving.com/home-garden/gardens/guide-to-paperwhites-forcing-bulbs-planting-and-tips

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