Which version do you prefer, black and white or color?
Beginning in November, we maintain a continuous flow of blooming narcissus by planting a new batch every two weeks or so. Paperwhites ‘Ziva’ blooms before the first of the year and ‘Galilee’ just after the holiday season. The ‘Chinese Sacred Lily’ (Narcissus tazetta var. orientalis) is almost as easy to force and has a sweeter, though no less potent fragrance. The scent is a dreamy blend of orange and honeysuckle. They are also a member of the tazetta group bearing multiple blossoms atop slender stalks, with white petals and cheery yellow cups. The ‘Chinese Sacred Lily,’ brought to this country by Chinese immigrants in the late 1800s, is traditionally forced to bloom for New Year’s celebrations.
With both paperwhites and ‘Chinese Sacred Lilies,’ place the bulbs in bowl or pot and cover with stones. The emerging green tips should be poking though the stones. Water up to the halfway point of the bulb and place in a cool dark room; an unheated basement is ideal. Water periodically and within a week or so, new growth will be visible. Then place the bulbs in the room away from strong light, continue to water as needed, and once in bloom, they will flower and scent your home for a week or more. Illustrations of paperwhites and the Chinese Sacred Lily, as well as the complete chapter, can be found in Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden (David R. Godine, Publisher).