January 7, 2013

Winter Therapy - Branches and Books.

Cornus mas forces into bloom ever so quickly in January, with tiny yellow flowers along every branch and twig. Out side, they will be in bloom by mid-February if the weather cooperates, so it only takes a couple of days for cut branches to bloom indoors.


On these short days of winter, there is little to do aside from tagging lists in seed catalogs and watching Downton Abbey, ( did you see those wedding flowers in yellow and white?), but if you are itchy to experience the garden, now that it is early January, you can begin to force some branches into bloom. Not every shrub or tree will force so early, but two will force within a week - witch hazel ( Hamamellis) and Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas). Both will come into bloom in about one week after cutting - no need for pounding stem ends with a hammer - a habit that have proven to be useless, yet still gets passed along as "a handy garden tip". Just cut your branches,  bring them indoors and place into room temperature water. I force mine right in the kitchen, as it is the warmest room. As we are hosting a luncheon for the N.E. Primula Society on Saturday, I always try to have a few vases of forced branches around the house to freshen things up ( and to distract guests from the pine needles and junk).

I cut my branches long, around 4-5 feet long as I use large vases. These branches of Hamamelis x Intermedia 'Arnold's Promise' will have fragrant, long petaled blossoms by Saturday ( maybe by Sunday, as I am a day late!). After New Years Day, I can force these branches every week ( I plant 'cutting shrubs' just for winter bouquets,  near the edge of the woods).


My gardening book library is now completely organized, this time by subject and not by color. ( um...the chair? OK...I know, ugly - but I am selling our other house next door, and this recliner was left in the house by the renters - brand new with tags. It will do for now, until I can replace it with something less 1990. But the dogs like it as a squirrel perch, so who knows - it may stay.

On these cold days, the nights are long, which gives me time in the evening to organize my gardening books. A little project I did this weekend. Sure, I've tried the Pinterest friendly 'organizing by color' which looked great as you can see in some old posts, but not very practical if one actually uses ones books. I am continually moving books around, up to the bedroom, out to the greenhouse, and stacks of books just appear next to every chair and sofa ( this is a very liven in house). Now, I organized my books by subject again. Alpine with alpines, orchids with orchids, bulbs with bulbs.

Today I received a nice gift from fellow blogger, friend and gardener Margaret Roach  who many of already follow on her popular gardening blog A WAY TO GARDEN- her new book! The Backyard Parables - lessons on gardening and life. I will be reading it and writing about it starting tonight, but stay tuned, as I will be offering a giveaway in a few days! You can be one of the first to win Margaret's newest work.


Grevillea thelemanniana 'Spider Net Grevillea', a new addition to the greenhouse subtropical shrub collection

I should catch you up on some of the newer additions to the greenhouse collection, two new Grevillea species - as I am Australian plant deficient. Grevillia, are subtropical evergreen shrubs which have been grown in Victorian greenhouses and conservatories, but have remained uncommon in many collections, especially now as few nurseries grow them outside of California where they are common landscape plants. A large genus ( with 360 species), Grevilla are relatives of the Protea. I find their spidery blossoms just as exotic as the protea,  as they are botanically petal-less, consisting of just a calyx tube with four long styles. I can't wait until my plants grow large enough to bloom more.

Grevillea 'Robyn Gordon' - one of the most popular cultivars, is still a cutting, but I expect blossoms by late summer.


  1. I'd keep the chair, don't you know geometrics are back in?

  2. Those arrangements for the wedding on Downton Abbey were CRAZY cool! Talk about decadent.

  3. I am going out tomorrow and cutting some of my Cronus mas and witch hazels. Mine will be small because the shrubs were only planted a few years ago. Thanks for this tip!

  4. In the early 1960's I was doing experiments with a type of "forcing" of smaller plants called photoperiodism. It was done by extending the hours of light a plant received.

    I'd really like to try this method as well.

  5. If I were local, I'd relieve you of that chair in a heart beat. And any puppy sitting in it too. I've always felt a serious omission of Downton Abbey was no chronicles of the gardening staff.

  6. Interesting read i think your website is great with informative content which i like to add to my bookmarks. I’d like to share everyone


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