Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Decorating with Paperwhites

Every Christmas, I like to decorate with as many natural elements as possible: Cedar bows (plentiful in these parts!), branches, Pointsettas, Hyacinths and Paperwhites.

Paperwhites are so sweet, and elegant, and they fit in any decor style. So simple to plant, in most any container. Here are a few gorgeous examples:

(Sources unknown...please let me know if they are yours! And if they are, then they are fantabulistic!)

Here's what I do each year:

In the past I planted in soil, but you can plant them in pebbles also. I have seen them even planted in soil, but topped with tiny pinecones, which was gorgeous! You can buy the pebbles at the nursery, but get them much cheaper at the dollar store.

This years containers are a thrifted silver bowl, and a red planter, given to me as a gift years ago.

You can buy paperwhites prepackaged in big box stores, but they come with cheap plastic containers, and don't seem to grow as well. I picked these up, very inexpensively, at my local nursery, where they're sold by the bulb. I actually bought 2 sets of bulbs as they grow quite quickly, taking 2-3 weeks from planting to flower. I wanted to have a full 6 weeks of flowering, so I will change out this set with a fresh, to flower in time for Christmas day.

Easy as plunking them into the pebbles, nestling the bulb root slightly. No need to even water. I used to water my bulbs planted in soil, but the lady at the nursery assured me that the bulb has all it needs to grow on it's own, sans l'eau.

This one is part of my dining room centerpiece.

My cat, Bella, seems to approve. Just don't eat them Bella!

And this sits on my living room coffee table, atop my thrifted Silver tray.

I can't wait to see them grow!

As an aside, I need your assistance. Any tips for a very rookie photographer? I am desperately trying to improve my blog photos, but either my skills, or my camera (likely a bit of both) are lacking. I have read that flashes are evil, and try not to use them. However, in the gloomy Northwest, it is so hard to have a day bright enough to take a good photo without a flash. I try to position the object near a light, or bring one in, but this often just puts a strange glow on it. Any pointers? Any cameras that you love, that aren't massively expensive (definitely less than $1000, and would love less than $500). I currently use a little point and shoot Canon Powershot SD 750, which is great for basics. My hubby thinks I am just not using this camera properly, rather than it being about the quality of the camera. Any suggestions, hints?? Thank you!!

Edit: Exciting news! My husband and I decided that as a family Christmas gift to ourselves, it was high time we bought a decent camera. We found a great deal on a Canon Rebel XS with 2 lenses. We almost went with the XSi, but it didn't have the extra lens. Anyone have one of these and have any tips? I'm having fun playing with it! The pics in this post are with the old camera.

Linking to my favorite Parties!


Tammy @BeatriceBanks said...[Reply to comment]

Love paperwhites! Congrats on your new camera! It's on my list this year. Keeping fingers crossed Mr. Santa brings me one! I don't have any expertise on camera use. It'll be like a puzzle to me to figure out even how to use it. Good luck with yours!

GWENDOLYN KAY said...[Reply to comment]

thank you for the great tutorial on growing the paper whites... I am going to look for some to buy now. Have you tried "picnik" to enhance your pictures? It is online and free and easy to use. I use it often.

Susan said...[Reply to comment]

Cheeze, Andrea. I thought your photos were great! I love paperwhites, too. I try to get close-ups a lot. Also, making the photos BIGGER on the blog would make them look nice, too, I think. Take care and enjoy those lovely flowers when they are in full, fragrant bloom! Susan

Lisa said...[Reply to comment]

These actually look pretty easy! My cat also likes to eat my plants, so it's hard to keep anything alive. They're going to look great when they're blooming!

Patti's Artful Design said...[Reply to comment]

Hi Andrea...I love paperwhites too! And...mine are still in about the same stage as yours. I am so anxious for them to bloom. Happy Holidays to you!

Courtney ~ French Country Cottage said...[Reply to comment]

Hi Andrea~ I love paperwhites, they are so pretty! I can't wait to see the blooms and your photos are beautiful. :) Thanks for sharing at my party this week! :)

...............Michele @ Portlandia Vintage said...[Reply to comment]

I am so glad you featured your paperwhites! I have been thinking about them recently and could not remember how to grow them indoors. Thank you so much. I am off to my local nursery! ( I do not support the big box stores either, it is "buy local" for me as well! So much better for my community.)

Tricia - A Rosy Note said...[Reply to comment]

I love paperwhites. They smell so wonderful. I just planted some today.

Congratulations on your new camera. I have been on the hunt for something different too. Best wishes ♥ Tricia

The Mom said...[Reply to comment]

Nice to stop by. I love paperwhites as well and have them blooming continuously inside from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Batch one is just about in full flower with batch two getting ready to open. My living room is FRAGRANT! By the way, I have found the editing tools at Picasa to be such a great help and so much fun to play with. Picasa is free to download and allows you to play around with everything from crop to special effects and a few technical things such as sharpening, adding light and definition, etc. I find that adding a good crop can really improve a photo and I almost always use some aspect of light as well. Hope this helps!

Martha said...[Reply to comment]

I love paperwhites but save them for January when the house seems so barren. I even like their fragrance!!!! I grow them in both soil and pebbles! And I buy enough so I can get two plantings from them which takes me through February usually!

Lori said...[Reply to comment]

Lucky you a new camera. I just planted my first paperwhites, they are now growing about a half inch each day. So fun!

SavannahGranny said...[Reply to comment]

Andrea, Thanks for this post. A friend and I were just discussing our lack of luck with paperwhites. I am definitely going to try this. This is also going to be her Christmas gift as well. Thanks a BUNCH. Ginger

Marilyn Holeman said...[Reply to comment]

I bought paperwhite bulbs for my gardener daughter one year. They grew well--but both of us hated the fragrance! Are there different fragrances?

Heaven's Walk - said...[Reply to comment]

Hi Andrea! Paperwhites at Christmastime are just so pretty! Love seeing them snuggled amidst pine boughs. :) If you photo edit your pics through "Picnik", you can lighten up your photos and really make them look professional. Plus, it's fun.....and addicting! lol! Happy MM!

xoxo laurie

One Shabby Old House said...[Reply to comment]

I just planted some paperwhites myself. I can't wait to watch them grow.

Nanniepannie said...[Reply to comment]

You and I are on the same page, I love paperwhites, I've done them for five years now. I always add water to my stones, have never heard they didn't need water. Have you proven that with your own experence?

Ro said...[Reply to comment]

I am a Canon user and presently have the XT. One of the main things you need to get/use is a tripod. It will make a lot of difference in the clarity of your images. Also, most digital images have a color cast (from the environment) that can easily be removed in imaging software. Natural light and a tripod should give some lovely pictures. And, YES flash is horrible unless you have one that is raised over your camera (on a bracket)-and that is still not great.

Kim said...[Reply to comment]

Those paperwhites are beautiful, you make it look like I could even manage growing some. I have a cheapy point and shoot camera, but have found with lots of practice I can get pretty good photos. I agree with the tripod suggestion - mine's a must. Try mid to late afternoon sun, I seem to get the best photos then. For awhile, if I wanted a good photo I'd use my kitchen table because it got the most natural light. Best of luck!

Sue said...[Reply to comment]

Hi Andrea- I wish you lots of luck with your new camera- they can be confusing. Heck, I still struggle with my old one. LOL My advice is to take lots and lots of shots of the same thing. Then use an editing software like Picasa. You can also try Picnik for other little goodies. I oversize my pics in my blog because I use the minima stretch feature. I like to do close-ups and use the macro feature( the little flower on most cameras) You will learn to get out of auto mode eventually. I want to take classes at the local college. I am a hands on learner and need to be shown and then practice. I'm still waiting on my paperwhites- I didn't get them planted until 2 weeks ago, so they probably won't bloom until Jan. Ok, by me. I am trying to keep my poinsettia alive. I always manage to kill them before Christmas! Brown Thumb Syndrome....
Enjoy the season and your new camera.
~ Sue