SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

February 28, 2014

North Shore Gardener: Forcing a little bit of spring indoors

I’m branching out! I’m forcing spring flowers. I’m going to force branches of flowering trees and shrubs, and then I’ll know that spring will come a little sooner.

It’s already the end of February — early mornings are brighter, days are getting warmer, and afternoons are getting longer. Spring — we’re almost there! We got through Groundhog Day, St. Valentine’s Day and President’s Day, and in another few weeks, we go on to daylight saving time, March 9.

Can spring be far behind? Soon, it will be St. Patrick’s Day, and it will be time to plant peas. I can’t wait! Spring’s coming — I can smell it in the air! The groundhog saw his shadow, but that means there are just six more weeks till spring, no matter how you count.

On the very next day that the temperature is above freezing, carefully take a walk around the still-frozen garden. Put on your boots and mittens, and put your pruning shears in your pocket. Don’t even bother looking down at the snow and mud — we know the garden is still frozen, and there are no snowdrops or crocuses brave enough to be seen quite yet.

Instead, look up to the bare branches of fruit trees and flowering shrubs that are showing their fat buds, just waiting for sunny days to show you what spring is all about. These are the branches that you can bring into the warm house and force to bloom or leaf within a few days or weeks.

Of course you are going to force forsythia and pussy willows. Forsythia and pussy willow are two of the easiest and most reliable branches that you can force. But they are just the beginning — traditional forced flowers include fruit trees, like apple, pear, and the easiest, flowering crabapples.

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