Early Spring Cheer

One thing about gardeners, we love to share. Whether it is a basket filled with produce in the summer, or zucchinis hidden on our neighbor's porch, we find a way to bring our garden to others. What better way to continue this feeling of giving than to spread some early spring cheer. 

Forcing branches in late winter is easy and rewarding. Choose a warm late winter day and head outside with a sharp pair of pruners. I like to keep a bucket of warm water with me to drop them into. Look for branches that have buds swelling. If you don't know exactly what tree or shrub you are cutting just take a little pocket knife and cut into it a little. You should be able to tell a flower from a leaf. Now cut your branch, a few from each plant. I like to mix and match a big bouquet, but it is also striking to just have a large vase of one variety. After you finish cutting, bring them inside to the sink. You will want to fill the sink with about two inches of warm water. Set the branch ends in (cut side) and then one at a time make another angled cut while they are in the warm water. Then just set them in a vase  with about 4" of water. If you want you can add a little floral preservative. I have not found that really prolongs them though others have. Then you can either place them on a cool porch (45-55 degrees), or I just put them right on the dining room table. They will open gradually and you will have just the little pop of spring needed. 

Don't forget to cut a few for friends and neighbors. Let them start at your own home, and then deliver them when they are just starting to open. I like to use a mason jar so I am not worried about them returning the vase. Wait till you see the smiles!!!!