Winter Tabletop Gardens

Tabletop Winter Garden

Jacqueline Houston is a member of the Wedgwood Garden Club, and also a Master Gardener
of King County. She has been gardening in Seattle for over 30 years. Wedgwood Garden Club
always welcomes new members – contact Jacqueline at for more
information on our monthly meetings.

By the end of January I am sick of winter and desperate for Spring flowers. My hellebores are
still stuttering into life, and even my snowdrops are barely showing above ground, and so I have
taken to creating a tabletop winter garden in a shallow pot, to appease my longing for color and
fragrance. It sits on my table and keeps me sane for a month!
The nurseries have just started carrying potted-up bulbs by this point, and after much trial and
error I have found the bulbs and plants that can tolerate about two weeks indoors and then get
planted outside for future enjoyment. I replant the pot in two weeks’ time, and then when
those in turn fade, my garden is finally kicking into gear with all the early spring bulbs, and I put
my tabletop winter garden away, mission accomplished.
My favorite combo consists of one hyacinth, one pot of miniature Tete a Tete daffodils, and two
brightly colored primroses. The hyacinth offers fragrance, as do the primroses, especially if you
get the plain yellow ones (sniff them at the nursery – most people don’t realize how fragrant
they can be, as they are usually all the way down on the ground). The yellow primrose
complements the daffodils, and I generally choose the second primrose to complement the
hyacinth (both are pink in this case).
I fill my container (about 12 inches in diameter) with potting soil, then loosen the crazy circling
roots of the bulbs, and bed them all in. Then I have a little bit of fun!
The children at my small in-home preschool help me decorate the remaining bare soil with
slabs of bright green moss from my yard (so much to choose from!), and then we set up a tiny
fairy garden, with a birdbath, birdhouse, watering can etc, and a pipe-playing pixie. The kids
love to check it out every morning to see if fairy birds drank from the birdbath, while I drink in
the color and fragrance that I miss so much in wintertime.
The bulbs mentioned here will flower indoors and not get too tall. Snowdrops, crocus and
miniature iris have not flowered well for me indoors, and tulips are too tall. Scillas will flower
inside and I sometimes use those, but the combo described here works so well, and satisfies me
so much, that I rarely depart from it.

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