Friday, March 8, 2013

Getting a head start on Spring with forced bulbs and branches of flowering shrubs

In late February and early March, my house is filled with flowers--and yes, real fragrant flowers, not the denatured kind you get in flower shops.

The secret is forcing bulbs and branches of flowering shrubs. In January and February I force forsythia and witch hazel. In early March, it's time for one of the easiest and most beautiful of the flowering shrubs--quince,especially quince contorta with convoluted branches almost as striking as the flowers. And the tremendous advantage of forcing branches of flowering shrubs is there is no advance preparation—just go out in the garden and break off a branch.

Forced bulbs require a bit of forethought. In November I put hyacinths and daffodils in pots in an old refrigerator in my basement. Hyacinths are the easiest--they need only about an 8 week chill. Tulips are the hardest usually requiring 12 weeks.

Another advantage of hyacinths is that after blooming inside, in mid-March they can be tucked in somewhere outside. And they can be counted on to bloom the following year. Daffodils and Tulips unfortunately are not so reliable, but hyacinths are forever. And hyacinth fragrance is something I cannot get enough of.

hyacinths blooming in my kitchen

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