Potting Up

hellebores.jpgOur winter is stuck on repeat like a CD playing with a giant gouge-is it not?  If only nature would choose to bring this song to a close. If only the channel would change.  OK, I realize the timing of the change of the channel is out of my control.  The only thing keeping me on an even keel-a greenhouse full of hellebores.  I am on the verge of being afraid for spring.  The sun and slightly warmer temperatures today meant melted snow was streaming into the shop under the front door. What other disasters does this brutal winter have to visit upon our spring?  I don’t have any answers, just a lot of theories that are most likely off target or irrelevant.   March?  lion-like, so far. And no relief in sight.  But any gardener has the option of creating a little spring indoors.  I am beginning to see pots of spring flowering bulbs available at nurseries.

spring-flowering-bulbs.jpgThis pot of muscari came in a plastic pot.  No gardener should be dismayed by the nursery presentation.  What they do well is bring a plant on.  Representing the magic of spring is not their thing.  They grow.  What they grow is available at a very reasonable cost.  That bulb that has shot forth leaves and flowers is a miracle of nature.  Spring flowering bulbs have flowers and leaves stored in in those juicy orbs we call bulbs.  Given the proper temperature signs, those bulbs break dormancy and grow.

potting-spring-bulbs.jpgNot so much is required of a gardener to bring a spring flowering bulb into bloom.  Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths,and a whole host of small flowering bulbs will represent in the spring, if you can just manage to get them below ground before the ground freezes so hard it cannot be worked.  I am embarrassed to say that I have had to ditch plenty too many bulbs in my gardening life, as I did not make the deadline.  Happily, the fall planting deadlines need not apply, should you pot up.  Pots of bulbs wintered over in the garage will come on and bloom with as much vigor as bulbs planted on time in the fall.

muscari.jpgShould you have no pots of spring flowering bulbs waiting for spring in your garage, shop your favorite garden store.  Rob spent the day transplanting muscari and cyclamen into containers.  How he transforms a nursery grown plastic pot loaded with muscari into a strong statement about spring might interest you.

finishing-touches.jpgThe first time I saw him wash the soil off of the upper half of a spring flowering bulb, I worried.  Would a bulb exposed to view mean disaster?  That has never happened.  As he says, the bulb from which all that life springs is beautiful.  A statement about spring should surely include a view of that bulb that is part of the experience of spring.

cyclamen.jpgHe has repotted cyclamen, taking great care to select a container of a proper scale.  I greatly admire how he subtly pairs plants with appropriate containers.

spring-pots.jpgThe only spring going on in my neighborhood is a direct result of the intervening hand of a passionate gardener.  In  our shop, those hands belong to Rob.  As anxious as I am about the length of this long and very hard winter, I appreciate his gestures towards the turn of the season.

crocus-pots.jpgWe had customers in today taking the results of his potting up home.  Not near Detroit Garden Works?  Visit your local nursery, and bring home a few pots of spring flowering bulbs.  Then do what you can to make those pots a personal expression of spring.

spring-pots.jpgStuck in a zone  with no spring?

spring-pots.jpgCreate your own version of spring.  Add a few touches from the forest floor.  Take some pictures. Enjoy the process.




  1. hazel hannaway says

    Just visited the Philly Flower Show yesterday and feel that Hellebores are getting almost too popular, but …thanks for this. Question: where are the missing archives from #34ish on? There is a gap..

  2. Great inspiration… and I appreciate getting a peek inside the workings of your business and how you make the ordinary look extraordinary.

  3. A beautiful feast for the winter- weary eye. Thank you.

  4. Dreaming……Visited local greenhouses yesterday to get a feel for Spring. Beautiful pics, Deborah!!

  5. A greenhouse full of hellebores? wow. How much light do you give them, temperature? I want that! Mine are showing now, but a bit rugged after the harsh winter. indoors, on a table, is probably the best way to enjoy their shy beauty.

    You are the best garden writer ever, nor does it hurt that you and Rob have a great sense of plants and beauty. Only those garden shops around here never ever have pots like that, wish sweden and detroit was just a little bit closer in this case! Why must i suffer with brightly colored or shabby chic pots? =) spring will come, or maybe it just came!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Louise, we keep the green house very cool-just under 50 degrees. Any effort made to bring a little spring on is a good idea! Thanks, Deborah

  6. Kathleen says

    Your compositions with grape hyacinths, crocus and cyclamen are breathtaking.

    Last year, I bought more bulbs than I could plant before the ground closed up with frost.
    I had to throw them into our old root cellar with little hope for their viability.
    Thank you for inspiring the courage to retrieve them. Many have pale nubbins of shoots!
    I’ll pot them up post haste. Fingers are crossed.

  7. Today in Toronto the temperature is above freezing; what bliss. Sadly, the hellebores in bloom last year at this time don’t appear to have even a single bud. I did however notice the forsythia buds swelling so I will be bringing some of that inside to cheer the mood. This post gifted me a huge deep breath and a sigh of relief knowing Spring is almost here.

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