Forcing branches for winter color and fragrance:
- Prune branches at least 12 inches long using clean, sharp pruners so as not to bruise the wood and leave the wound open to weakness and disease. Imediately plunge the cut branches into a bucket of warm water and bring indoors.
- Completely immerse the cut branches in a large tub of water for 8-12 hours to encourage the plant to break dormancy.
- Place branches in a vase or bucket of water and put in a room with good light away from any heat source. Mist occasionally to maintain a humid environment and watch for the buds to swell until they burst into a precocious spring bloom.
Suggested plants for forcing: Apple, birch, buttercup winter hazel, cherry, dogwood, elderberry, forsythia, lilac, magnolia, maple, pear, quince, redbud, spirea, will, witch hazel.
…from Hortus Miscellaneous, a gardener’s hodgepodge of information and instruction, by Lorene Edwards Forkner & Linda Plato, Sasquatch Books, 2007
Hortus Miscellaneous was my first book. I’ve often referred to it as the horticultural love-child of Ripley’s Believe it or Not and The Old Farmer’s Almanac. It is filled chock o’block with tidbits, myths, how to’s, random lists, design tips, statistics and definitions; everything from a list of edible weeds, “Chic Greens in your Backyard”, lists of plants mentioned in the writings of Shakespeare, as well Collette and the Bible, to directions for how to lay a flagstone pathway. Like the title says – a hodgepodge! Nonetheless, a useful, quirky and personal hodgepodge that I continue to refer to throughout the year.
About a month ago, I cut branches of Kerria japonica ‘Picta’ for forcing, turned to page 14 – you don’t think I have all this information memorized!!! – and took over the bathtub for a day. Today, graceful, delicate green stems of Kerria adorn my dining room table in a huge bouquet that pokes and snags everyone who passes by too closely. Sure the family would rather I conducted these little projects away from major traffic patterns in the house but I’m sure, secretly they too, like me, appreciate their brilliant goldenrod-colored blossoms and fresh green and white leaves!
The following is an excerpt of a sweet review of Hortus that recently appeared on Idaho Gardening Examiner:
A charming compendium of facts for gardeners, with fascinating bits and pieces of information -some little known, some whimsical, all very useful – perfect as a small reference book on all things gardening.
Hortus lists the top 10 arboretums in America, offers instructions for installing a flagstone pathway, will help you brew the perfect cup of herbal tea, tell you how to fend off rabid dogs with plants, and provides a list of edible plants. Of course, those are just a few of the juicy tidbits you’ll find in a book that covers gardening from asexual propogation (A) to xeriscape gardening (X). (Note to author: Lorene, you should have added Zinnia just for the hell of it!)
In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that I KNOW Lorene Edwards Forkner, and can say without reservation, she knows whereof she speaks when proclaiming “a good martini should taste like rain.” You will find that quote on page 2, regarding the Gardener’s Tipple: gin.
Personally, I am sticking with good ol’ pig wash, the Kir Royale. Look it up on page 143.
Hortus makes a terrific gift for anyone who loves to garden.
Thanks Mary Ann Newcomer, friend and fellow garden writer! I have a lot of respect and genuine admiration for this clever and knowledgeable woman – even if she didn’t have good things to say about my stuff! OK, enough with the mutual appreciation society…just go to MA’s blog, Idahogardener, and see for your self if she doesn’t get you thinking and smiling.
Now I’m going to go sweep up the fallen petals in the dining room, grab my pruners and head outside to cut some pear branches. Anything to get through these final days of winter.