Tag Archive | Spring

Flowering Branches

ForcingBranches_PinkThis is the time of year when spirits yearn for green sprouts and signs of warmer weather to come. You can hurry nature along with a glorious indoor display of blossoms from the cut branches of spring-flowering shrubs and trees. Forcing branches into bloom is not difficult, and a thoughtful selection of plants will ensure a succession of blooms for several months.

In order to bloom, the plants must have been dormant for 40 to 60 days in temperatures below 40ºF, so choose branches that set their buds in fall or early winter (see below). Look for branches with fat flower buds (the small buds are leaf buds). To preserve the shape and health of the plant, cut branches that you would normally prune.

Scrape about 2 inches of bark from the cut end of the branch and make a 3- to 5-inch slit in the stem end to enhance water absorption. You can also split the end by hammering it gently; be careful to avoid crushing the branch, which would accelerate decay.

Fill a tall container with room-temperature water and place the cut branches in it. Or fillpottery barn image the bathtub and submerge the entire branch — buds and all. Let them soak overnight so that they will absorb as much water as possible. Fill a second container with cool water, add a floral preservative (available from florists), then transfer the branches to a new container. Place the branches in a cool, dimly lit place. In three or four days bring branches into a bright area out of direct sunlight. Change the water and cut 1 inch off the bottom of each stem every week. Mist the branches at least once a day. They may take as long as 3 weeks to bloom, but the sight of all those precious buds bursting with divine color is a glorious reward for your patient anticipation.

Plant List

Blooming times and cutting times will vary according to your location and the weather conditions. The earliest bloomers are witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis), Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas), forsythia (Forsythia spp.), pussy willow (Salix discolor), azalea (Rhododendron spp.), and flowering quince (Chaenomeles).

For later forcing choose from magnolia, apple, and crab apple trees (Malus spp.), beach plum (Prunus maritima), flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), red bud (Cercis canadensis), and mock orange (Philadelphus spp.).

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Life Lessons from the Garden: From a Chore to a Delight

by OCMGA Master Gardener Tammy Borden

I grudgingly picked up the rake and began in the corner of my yard, which seemed the size of a small nation at the time. It was overwhelming. Spring had arrived, and the yard was strewn with litter, leaves and pine cones. But I pressed on, determined to conquer my yard. As I inched along I noticed a chickadee in a tree about twenty feet away. He’d swoop down to grab a single sunflower seed from my bird feeder and fly back up to his familiar branch. He’d sit and crack it against the bark to open it, eat the nut, and fly back down. This went on for quite some time, and as I continued to rake, I got closer and closer to my new-found companion. The chickadee didn’t seem to mind that I was now only a couple feet away. He flew down once again, right in front of me, and snatched a seed. I stood there for a moment, admiring his bravery. Curious, I leaned my rake against the feeder and reached inside to grab a handful of seeds. Raising my hand to the sky, I thought, “It sure would be cool if he…” Just then, the little chickadee flew down and landed on my finger. It felt like a whisper and I almost winced at the touch of his tiny feet. He gave a scolding chirp, grabbed a single seed and flew back to his perch. I stood there motionless for a moment with my hand outstretched. But inside my heart leapt with excitement and disbelief.

In an instant, the tedious chore of raking my lawn became a delight. I didn’t have a very willing attitude when I first started raking my lawn. But I obediently did it, despite my reluctance. And I was rewarded with an unexpected treasure. I think that’s true in life too. There are many things I know I “should” do, but I always find an excuse to put it off. Maybe there are areas in your own life where you are reluctant and unwilling because the sacrifice of time, money or effort seems overwhelming. But as is true with working in the garden, a great, and often, unexpected reward awaits you. Honestly, I can’t wait to experience the joy of raking my lawn this spring. But I would not have that willing attitude, had I not… grudgingly picked up the rake and began in the corner of my yard, which seemed the size of a small nation at the time ..

Tammy is a regular contributor to Garden Snips