In the Garden:
Mid-Atlantic
February, 2001
Regional Report

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Snowdrops are one of my first indicators of warmer days to come.

First Signs of Spring

I resisted the supermarket bulbs in bloom, but seeing those perky little narcissus and crocus flowers sure made me want spring to come sooner. They also made me want some flowers of my own to enjoy in the house during these last few weeks of winter. But instead of buying potted flowers, I'm going outdoors into the cold to find some.

Forsythia Blooms

I've been watching the forsythia bush outside my window for weeks. The buds are swelling, and the golden flowers are getting ready to burst open. I couldn't wait any longer for Mother Nature to warm up enough to start the flower show, so I took my clippers and cut some nice long whippy branches to bring inside. Before cutting, I made sure each branch had some flower buds that had begun to swell. If the branches are cut too early, they will not open. While I was outside, I also nabbed a few pussy willow branches with fat buds about to split open, and I snipped a few thorny branches off the chaenomeles for good measure.

Forcing Flowering Branches

Forcing flowering branches is not difficult, but you need to be patient. First I submerge the branches in water overnight, being sure the cut ends are underwater so they won't dry out. I use a heavy frying pan to submerge the branches in the bathtub, much to the cat's amazement. (The rest of the family is accustomed to such goings-on.) The next morning, I retrim the cut ends and stand the branches in a vase of water. I set them in a cool location (about 65F) and wait for the buds to open - usually in 1-2 weeks.

Outdoor Blooms

The buds on the batch of branches I cut last week are barely opening. They're not showy enough for a photo, but all is not lost. While I was fussing and fiddling with the branches, Mother Nature took things into her own hands. A quick tour of the garden reveals a handful of snowdrops blooming quietly - all on their own.


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