A burst of spring blooms in the middle of winter
Flowering shrub and tree branches can easily become indoor beauties.
In late February and early March, we are still in the clutches of winter where I live – the scenic Laurel Highlands of southwestern Pennsylvania. The weather is mercurial: One day a blizzard is raging; the following day temperatures rise and the snow begins to melt.
Just when winter releases its grip for a few days and the sun shines brightly, my impulsive nature convinces me to grab my rubber boots, a heavy wool sweater, and gloves.
I locate my garden clippers and a plastic bucket and set out to gather branches for an early spring arrangement. I simply ignore the date on the calendar and plan to usher in spring a month earlier by forcing the branches to bloom indoors.
My mission is easy to accomplish thanks to the generosity of a nearby neighbor who has several forsythia bushes growing along a wooden split rail fence. Pruning is good for the bush, because left unpruned, forsythias grow into unmanageable thickets with little flowering.
I convince myself that the slight breeze following me has a hint of the sweetness of an early spring. This reprieve from deep snow and frigid temperatures is a short-lived gift I gladly accept, because I know the landscape will soon be white again.
So walking down my country lane I don’t mind this false start to spring with snow melting as fast as vanilla ice cream on a summer day and muddy potholes ready for post-winter patching.
Three forsythia bushes line up along the fence. I cut the branches at a sharp angle and fill my bucket quickly. Normally, there should be water in the bucket to keep the branches from drying out until they are brought indoors. But since I am only a few minutes from home, I place them in the empty bucket and wrap them loosely in plastic so they don’t dry out.
Once home, I fill the bucket with cold water and allow the branches to rest for a couple days in the guest bedroom in a cool dark closet.
After two days, I fill three tall vases with cool water, recut the branches, arrange them in the vases, and place the bouquets near a sunny window. By late afternoon, the sun is streaming through the window and golden blossoms slowly begin to open and are transformed into flowering bouquets.