Last weekend I attended the local Farmers Market in the nearby town to Darlington House. It is held this time of year in the meeting hall of the Episcopal church where I am a sometime parishioner. Leading up to Christmas the market is a bustle of activity, and a shopper's paradise. So much bounty and beauty to choose from.
I went to the market to stock up on paperwhites from the good ladies of Cedar Farm, who have pots and pots of them for sale in December. I came away with five pots of paperwhites, in varying sizes. Cedar Farm does a beautiful job of them, planting them with moss. They are lovely. I also bought a wreath and a spray of bay leaves from them to decorate Darlington House.
I've adored paperwhites for as long as I can remember. When I was a boy my mother, MD, bought bulbs from White Flower Farm, for forcing. I think of her every time I see paperwhites, one of her favorite flowers. They are a Christmas tradition for me, and one that I shall honor for as long as I am able to.
Photograph by Reggie Darling
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Paperwhites, A Darlington House Tradition
Posted by Reggie Darling at 12:54 AM
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I love how traditions connect us to those that have gone before us.ReplyDelete
The new life of a bulb to blossom in one's honor symbolizes love and re-birth. How admirable of you to honor MD and to sometimes be a parishioner. Seriously, you are special in everything you do - even if it is once a year or just sometimes. After all it is indeed your actions that speak louder than words.
I adore paperwhites as well and plant pots and pots of them -- but our paperwhites are a JANUARY tradition -- when Christmas is back in the basement, when the outside is dreary (for prairie winters are often snow free and everything is just brown!) the paperwhites make one smile! And I adore the fragrance -- just adore it! So we buy a big box of bulbs and force them for January bloom!ReplyDelete
Thank you for your lovely post.ReplyDelete
The tradition continues in this household as well, sir. Here the bulbs are shooting up nicely in a variety of containers suited to being slipped into cachepots and silver holloware for proper display when the time comes.
I plant them as well. Just some small stones in a dish, or in a tall glass. I used to have an office that had huge southern-facing windows, and I grew paperwhites all winter long.ReplyDelete
I absolutely love the scent though some find it sickening.ReplyDelete
I want to come see your house for the holidays…enjoy the season! xxReplyDelete
I have always wanted to do this and I NEVER HAVE! Why? I don't know. Lovely.ReplyDelete
Reggie, that is a beautiful way to honor the memory of your mother.ReplyDelete
I echo The Devoted Classicist's comment. In fact, I used to force Paperwhites, but my husband finds the wafting scent deleterious to his nasal passage. Alas, I overcompensate by planting white narcissus each year in the garden, and force Hyacinths inside the house.ReplyDelete
The photograph accompanying today's post is so very beautiful, as is the sentiment behind your words.
I am out the door to get some bulbs! Maybe not for Christmas, but definitely, like Martha, for some color in dreary January when everything is soooo depressing. Loved the way they were decorated in your post last year. And you said it so well...ReplyDelete
"If you aspire to live a life of aesthetic integrity, as we do at Darlington House, I urge you to eschew the degraded and hybridized offerings that blanket mass-market florists and retail chains this time of year. Instead, I recommend that you seek out and patronize the independent local flower shops where you live. Not only will you be supporting locally owned businesses that are the backbones of our communities, but you will be assured of surrounding yourself with beautiful flora that you won't see everywhere else you go this holiday season."
I had to google paperwhite, we call them Jonquils.They look great in the terracota pots.ReplyDelete
I've just come back from Hobart,which is Australia's second oldest city. Lots of Georgian architecture and bracing winds, right from Antartica.
Mine used to come from wonderful, long gone, Fishelson's Florists on the flat of Beacon Hill. Such amazing taste they had---and such amazing bulbs. The paperwhite bulbs were enormous, each sending up several flower stems. I've never seen such wonderful ones elsewhere.ReplyDelete
How wonderful that you continue the tradition MD started.ReplyDelete
White Flower Farm was always my go to for paperwhites. Now that I live in Georgia I plant them outside and enjoy them in January (till the frost gets them.)
Would like to know what your solution is when the start to fall over. I hated to see them all 'corsetted-in' when they needed support.
I love Paperwhites too mostly for their sweet little white flowers, but must confess I am not crazy about the scent. This year I only have 3 groups going. Do you have white Amarylis as well?ReplyDelete
Water you paper whites with diluted gin or vodka to keep flowers from tipping. http://www.wcax.com/global/story.asp?s=7525999ReplyDelete
I do love the look of them but must admit the scent is overpowering - and I would not subject them to the death that follows once they entered my door- I just killed an Amaryllis-ReplyDelete
Reggie, I'm sure your home will be beautiful this Christmas. Paperwhites I tried once ..... and only once. Couldn't stand the fragrance. My Mom was very fond of having a red amaryllis in bloom at Christmas, so I usually started one for her several weeks before. She loved to watch it grow day by day and was always excited to have one with four blooms on one stalk. I'm presently coaxing along a red/white miniature amaryllis but I think it will be after Christmas before it is in full bloom. Oh well, an amaryllis is great any time during the winter in my home.ReplyDelete
I love Paperwhites, and try to have at least one pot going all winter... Have you heard about adding vodka to the water to help them stay upright? yes, I just added an image and link on my Pinterest page, in the Christmas board! (http://pinterest.com/libbywilkie/christmas/)ReplyDelete
The word came from the Cornell Horticulture Dept.: a 7 to 1 ratio seems to do the trick! I began giving my three pots their "cocktail" a few days ago...we will see!
Yes! Add vodka! Mine are "planted" in small pails of seaglass.ReplyDelete