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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Christmas Beautiful Ideas #2 Paperwhites

Friday, November 14, 2014

Welcome to the second in a series of posts with some ideas and tips I think are
Christmas beautiful ideas

Christmas means different things to different people, 
but everyone sees beauty in Christmas in some way.
Last year, I saw beauty in simplified Christmas Greenery 2013.

As the magical season of the year draws near, 
I hope you, too, find some Christmas beauty in this series, and that the ideas
will be useful for you so you can adapt them to express 
the beauty of Christmas in your home.

Christmas Beautiful Idea #2 
paperwhite narcissi 

Six weeks from today, November 13, is Christmas Day 
which means today is THE day to plant paperwhite narcissi 
in order for them most likely to be in bloom inside on Christmas. 
The fragrance and snow white blooms are symbols 
of Christmas for me. 

I love Ziva paperwhites and try to plant some for 
"forcing" inside every year. 
Some years I have bought the bulbs, 
but then ran out of time to get them planted. 
Not this year.  
I planted several containers today. 
And, I plan to plant several more containers this weekend. 

Ziva paperwhites can be planted from mid-October through February. 
Flowers emerge four to six weeks later. 

Not all bulbs are created equal. 
The bulb on the right is not a TOP quality bulb. 

Bulbs, like many plants, are rated by size and quality. 
Top quality narcissus bulbs are rated 17 centimeters plus (17 cm+), 
which is the rating for the other bulbs shown. 
Not only are the 17+ bulbs larger, they have more 
shoots emerging per bulb and will have more blooms per bulb. 
Catalogs/online websites from plant and bulb nurseries are the best 
sources for finding large, healthy quality bulbs. 

A single bulb planted in a small pot makes a thoughtful inexpensive Christmas gift. 
Friends love receiving a gift that is special and "homemade". 

A single top quality bulb in a special container can be part of a small centerpiece 
like this one shown on my breakfast table last Christmas,   
There are four blooms in this photo, but there is also another bud yet to open. 
I must have been a good girl last year for Santa 
to reward me with so many flowers from a single bulb. 

The bulbs can be planted in soil or my favorite way... in pebbles. 
French zinc seed pots found at the Round Top Antique Show 
are the right size for a bulb. 

A cut-down styrofoam coffee cup just fits inside the zinc pot and 
makes the pot watertight to keep it from leaking and to keep it from rusting. 

I love how the three little zinc pots look on the scalloped edge china dish. 
When I add water to the pots, the table is protected from drips and splashes. 
When adding water, the water level should be at the bottom of the bulb, no higher. 

Here they are!  
All dressed up with sheet moss and red-striped grosgrain ribbons, 
they look oh so français. 

Cereal/soup bowls are big enough for about three large bulbs. 
These bulbs are peeking above the sheet moss. 

This is the same cereal/soup bowl that has a red holly design on one side. 
A gray holly design is on the other side. 
Perfect for using with traditional Christmas colors and 
for using with the current popular grey and/or white color trends. 
Just turn the bowl around to fit the color scheme.  

Seven bulbs or more can fit in a large vegetable/salad bowl. 
Have you noticed I love scalloped edges? 

The bulbs will receive bright sunlight in my breakfast sunspace as they grow. 

All of these will be for sale in my annual French Country Christmas Event. 
Any that do not sell will make great gifts for friends and/or  
great centerpieces on my holiday tables. 

A one-page quick summary of how to "force" paperwhites 
can be printed for your files or can be pinned to 
your Christmas Pinterest board. 
See The Graphics Fairy for botanical images.

Did you miss the first post in the Christmas Beautiful Ideas series? 
If yes, you really should pop over to Christmas Beautiful Ideas #1 to see 
a gorgeous fabric reindeer gift tag.

Our first hard freeze of the year was this week.  
It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas! 
Please join me at these inspiring sites...




  1. Bonjour Judith! Now these are so elegant, so European looking in any setting and the little zinc cans are so perfect to meld their elegance with classic rustic! Great idea, and I just may get myself some. I saw this awesome antique zinc chicken feeder yesterday (a long trough-like thing) that would be perfect for a greenery display as such!

    Happy decorating and preparing for the holidays!! Anita

  2. Quanta beleza florida!


    Lígia e =^.^=

  3. hallo, judith, danke für die inspirationen, einen schönen freitag wünscht angie aus deutschland

  4. Love, love, love paperwhites and your arrangements are spectacular. We are not going to be home at all in December so I won't be forcing bulbs this year. I can enjoy yours! Please keep posting photos. Your posts are always pretty and so informative/instructional. Thank you for that. I too love the zinc pots~ perfect!

  5. These are beautiful, Judith! I especially love how you added moss to some of the containers. It looks so pretty even before the flowers bloom! -Amy

    1. Judith, I also wanted to invite you to a link party I co-host. It's called Your Turn To Shine and it starts every Thursday at 6am EST. I would love to see some of your projects there! :) Amy

  6. I've never tried to grow these but we get such bright sunshine here in Florida, that I'm sure they would do well. Thanks for giving us the info to get started! Hugs!

  7. Love paperwhites and that pretty grosgrain ribbon really adds a special touch to zinc pots!
    Wish I lived near to attend your sale.
    Linda at Beautiful Ideas

  8. Love the look of the paperwhites! Maybe next year - this one has been super busy so far. You have such talent for displaying even a simple bulb so that it looks beautiful even before it blooms!

  9. Oh, so many pretty choices of containers! Your paper whites will be gorgeous. My bulbs are planted!

  10. Hi Judith! I wanted to let you know I'm featuring your pretty flowers at Your Turn To Shine Today. Thanks so much for linking up with us. I hope you have a lovely day! -Amy


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