Forcing the issue

There's nothing that gladdens the heart in the chilly depths of January quite as much as cheery spring bulbs, forced to flower ahead of time. Super-early hyacinths on a kitchen windowsill fill the house with winter scent, while paperwhite daffodils bring a delicate beauty to a Christmas scene.

Pots of forced bulbs make wonderful Christmas presents - you can buy prepared pre-chilled bulbs in our garden centre from autumn. Don't forget to treat yourself too!

Start in September, planting into bowls of bulb fibre or multipurpose compost, available in our garden centre in Poynings. Place the bulbs on compost in the bottom of the bowl so they're close, but not touching. Fill with more compost so that the tops of the bulbs are just showing.

Place your pot of bulbs in a dark, cool place - ideally, about 9°C. Keep watered, and when shoots reach 5cm long bring them out into a cool room to let the leaves green up. Finally, move to a warm windowsill to continue growing. Then all you have to do is clear a space among your Christmas decorations for their moment in the festive spotlight.

Please ask the staff in our Poynings garden centre for more information about forcing bulbs for early spring colour.

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