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When the gray winter skies bring harsh winds, cool temps and snow, it can seem like spring will never arrive. During these bleak moments, I grab my favorite spring bulbs, usually paperwhites, daffodils and hyacinths, and plant them in containers around my apartment. Unlike most plants that require soil and heavy containers, I find I can force spring bulbs in just about anything.
One of my favorites include forcing bulbs in a large glass cylinder vase. I pop some small rocks in the bottom, add a variety of bulbs, a little water and basically forget about them. (Hint: A vase with tall sides will keep the stems upright as they grow). Once the roots have taken hold and the leaves and buds are starting to show, I move the vase to my coffee table where it becomes a cool, living arrangement, similar to a terrarium.
Also great are white containers or vases. The gorgeous milky color is a perfect compliment to the bright green leaves and pink, white and blue flowers that arrive later. I love to mix and match vintage milk-glass vases and compotes from my local thrift shop, but TJ Maxx and Marshall's can be great locations for inexpensive white containers. (Hint: Look for containers that are shallow and wide, so you can fit more bulbs in and use fewer rocks and less potting soil).
Try to vary the heights and type of containers to add visual interest. Containers with tall sides or a pedestal bottom are great for adding height. Mixing and matching bulbs in one container will give you a beautiful garden feel, while planting a single type of bulb in a container looks fresh and modern.
For a chic industrial look, plant some bulbs in a galvenized or steel container. Old bread trays, shallow pans or small buckets are perfect for this. Bulbs forced in silver plate bowls and dishes look classic and polished. (Hint: Make sure to use a plastic liner at the bottom to avoid damaging the metal).
For a rustic garden feel, pop some bulbs into a clay pot or basket. Clay pots can be customized with chalkboard paint, stenciled with modern designs, or add a little yogurt and dirt to grow your own moss on the outside. (Hint: Select a deep pot or basket and use potting soil, so that you can plant a variety of bulbs at different levels.)
Once I've selected my containers and planted my bulbs, I use vintage cake stands and glass or metal serving trays to group my bulbs together. As they grow, I stand back and enjoy my new spring garden.