Monday, February 29, 2016

Bare Bulb to This

 About five weeks ago, Tom and I visited Stockslager's Garden Center where he bought a mesh bag of hyacinth bulbs. He wanted to have some to force. Earlier he bought us a hyacinth at Kroger's, already begun in a forcing glass. That has since bloomed and I've reused the glass for one of the bulbs he bought in January.

 The hyacinth is already in full bloom, its intoxicating fragrance wafting by me as I sit at my usual spot on the sofa. How came this dry bulb to create this luxurious bloom is such a short time? I can't answer that question - I think that no one really can - but I can show you how it happened.

February 29 - Full Bloom!

January 24 - The Start 

 Forcing is done with a "forcing glass", an hourglass-shaped object which holds water in the bottom half and the bulb in the top half. The water is usually not allowed to quite touch the bulb - though slightly at times seems not to hurt - and it is replenished as needed.
 For the earliest stages of forcing, it's best to find a cool, dim place. As I keep the second floor at 65° in the winter, I sat the forcing glass on the back of my toilet.

January 28 - A Fringe of Roots 

 After only four days, this bulb shows that it's ready to grow. A fringe of delicate white roots reach for the water. This is the stage where the water level should be kept below the base of the bulb, forcing the roots to grow and reach for the water.

February 5 - Busy at Top and Bottom

Already the top has begun to split into two halves. The roots have dipped halfway through the water below. The bulb has been growing for a mere 12 days.

February 12 

 Now the energy is going into the top. The flower bud can already be seen forming.

February 15 - Looking Down Inside at the Bud 

 The early buds remind me of an unripe pineapple, clustered tightly around the stalk. This is just past the three week mark.

February 19 

 The plant is already fully-formed and ready to bloom at just less than four weeks.

February 28 - The First Buds Open 

 Already a few buds begin to open and that sweet intoxicating hyacinth perfume is beginning to be released.

February 28 - Very Close!

Thirty-six days and the plant is all but open. One more day will do it (see the first picture on this post).

 All of this makes me wonder: where does it all come from? It would seem that there is more plant, more structure, than could have been contained in that small, dry bulb. And yet fields of corn make me think similar thoughts. From that tiny seed, this six foot tall plant has sprung?

 And yet the corn tickles its roots in soil. There are minerals to be absorbed in addition to the rain and air. This hyacinth bulb has had no more than water and air. It has never tasted soil.

 They say that on an atomic level, the universe is mostly empty space. Isn't this hyacinth a demonstration of that principle? Isn't it mostly water and  empty space? And yet look  at what is contained in that foamy vacuum.

 Nature often pulls a slight of hand: from nothing, something.

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