Flowers in Winter

The days are still too short and too much snow is piled in the yard to imagine flowers outside yet. Flowers in the house feel like a real treat.

Hyacinths are easy to force indoors. I buy bulbs in September and hide them in the back of the refrigerator until after Christmas. Then I bring one out and place it in a special vase of water on the kitchen windowsill. Before long there will be a little nub of the palest green. A few roots emerge into the water. Every day I notice changes until the buds open and the house is flooded with scent. When one flower starts to fade, I start another one. The bloomed-out bulbs are kept in dirt until I can plant them in the garden. Other flowers that can be grown in winter are narcissa, crocus, amaryllis, and iris reticulata. All of them need a period of dormancy in a cool dark place.

I am also still enjoying a supermarket bouquet I bought to use at the art class I teach for kids. We looked at Georgia O’Keeffe’s close-up paintings of flowers, and used her compositions as a starting place for our own. I do believe flowers must be closely observed to truly know them. Even then they are still strange and wonderful.

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