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Spring is in the Air

By Melanie Moffett
In p. Allen Smith
Feb 26th, 2015
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Tips for Decorating with Spring Blooms

article by P. Allen Smith

Spring is my favorite time of year. I love the sense of renewal that comes after months of dormancy. Bright colors just seem to start popping up—from the green grass to clear blue skies.

It’s no secret I have an affinity for daffodils; their trumpet shape just seems to announce the arrival of a new season. In fact, we have more than 300,000 of these beautiful bulbs planted at the Garden Home Retreat for a sea of color that ranges from cream to a deep, bright sunshine yellow.

Spring Decorating
Daffodils are a great cut flower for decorating. These bulbs lend a festive, yet casual feel to a spring tablescape. One of my favorite ways to set the mood of a luncheon is to place a posy of daffodils in simple vases along the length of the table. Keep the stems short so guests can easily see each other across the table and not strain trying to talk over or around the flowers.

The concept of the garden home is simple—bring the outdoors inside and let the indoors extend to outside. I enjoy demonstrating this concept when I decorate for guests. A great way to bring the outdoors inside is to create a chandelier of daffodils. I use a moss lined hanging basket and fill it with small jars of cut stems from the field. I then round out the chandelier with grape vine and other natural materials.

When I open my home for entertaining, it’s about more than sharing a delicious meal with family and friends; I like to share what we’ve grown at the Garden Home Retreat. If you plant numerous bulbs, share the bounty with your guests. Give your guests a special favor to remind them of the day, like a small terra-cotta pot filled with cut stems from your garden. You may also consider including a recipe from the day’s menu. For an extra special touch, stamp each guest’s first initial on the pot.

The sap from daffodils has the reputation of a flower killer, but with proper care they can be used in a mixed flower arrangement. Arrange flowers, leaving out the daffodils. Soak cut daffodil stems in a mixture of water and floral food for about six hours. Remove the stems from the solution and add to the other flowers.

Indoor Bulb Garden How-to
Bring a breath of spring indoors with this simple bulb garden. Many garden centers and even grocery stores have potted bulbs available for sale in spring.

Materials
(4) 6-inch pots of flowering bulbs such as daffodils
Shallow decorative container (wide and deep enough to accommodate the pots)
Sheet moss

Line the bottom of the decorative container with plastic to prevent water damage on tables. Arrange the pots of flowers in the decorative container. Conceal the tops of the pots with sheet moss. Keep the arrangement in a sunny location until the flowers open, at which point you can place it in any room in your house.

Once the flowers fade you can plant daffodils and hyacinths outdoors. Tulips aren’t reliably perennial in the South, so those bulbs you can toss in the compost pile.

Care After Blooming
As the weather warms and spring starts to give way to summer, you want to make sure to take care of the flowers, so they’ll make a healthy return next year. Be sure to deadhead as the flowers start to fade. Leave the remaining foliage for a minimum of six weeks and apply a low-nitrogen, high-potash fertilizer so the bulbs can be recharged to bloom again the following year.

Fall Planting
Plant daffodil bulbs in the autumn after the ground starts to cool. These flowers prefer full sun, but a little afternoon shade is good for varieties that bloom in shades of orange or red to keep the color vibrant. Bulbs will tolerate most soils, but they prefer well-drained soils.

Plant early-, mid-, and late-blooming varieties to extend the blooming season and keep the color popping.

If you struggle with pests in the garden including deer, rabbits or squirrels, plant bulbs in those trouble spots. Rodents find these bulbs unappetizing and don’t like the taste.

Daffodils will produce more bulbs over time. Lift and divide when clumps become large, and the flowering grows sparse. The best time to divide and move bulbs is when foliage has withered. Lift bulbs with a digging fork or spade, then replant immediately at the same depth and water well.