i keep forgetting to embark on a paperwhite journey after being inspired by this domino sidebar from the january issue. it's not a groundbreaking suggestion here, but it's a lovely one - there's something about watching a plant grow from bulb to flower that's intensely gratifying (am i the only one here?), and even more so when the roots aren't obscured by soil. i love this idea, and i think it will work beautifully in my kitchen
here are a few notes on paperwhites, also known as Narcissus papyraceus.
paperwhites are a perennial bulbous plant, native to the mediterranean region. they belong to the daffodil family (did you know daffodils are poisonous and can cause death if eaten?!), and are the most fragrant of the bunch, with a sweet, heavily aromatic smell. they produce small, star-shaped flowers that will last for several weeks. some varieties have pure white flowers, others have white perianths (outer petals) with pale yellow "cups" in the center.
photo above from anny's pal.paperwhites gain their popularity not only from their scent, but also from the ease with which they can be "forced" or coaxed into blooming. (it's called this because you are essentially forcing the spring-flowering bulbs to fast-forward their natural growth cycles and bloom in winter instead.) many bulbs can be forced--grape hyacinths, tulips, daffodils, and crocuses, for example--but paperwhites are probably the easiest as they don't require a long cold storage period to root.
you can learn how to force your own paperwhites here, here, or here and you can purchase bulbs from smith and hawken or amazon. photo above from karen p.
photo above from erika ebert.