Forcing Spring Along

April 21, 2014

By Karin Lidbeck Brent

This past week was thrilling! I finally was able to start working in my garden. Everything is blooming so quickly. In just a matter of a few days, small buds began to appear on trees and my forsythia is just about to pop.

This is the perfect time to try forcing flowering shrubs and tree branches. I pruned a few shrubs and brought the branches inside. Whether the branches  are cut from trees or store-bought, nothing creates greater visual impact in a room than a tall array of flowering springtime branches.

forcing spring buds

All photos except those noted are by Michael Partenio

I snapped this photo of a variety of spring branches that I love to work with. It’s exhilarating to see such bold color after a long drab winter! Cut a few branches from your tree or shrub at any time once the branches develop buds. After you remove each branch from a shrub, use a sharp knife to cut the bottom of the stem on a diagonal. Place the branches in warm water and then set them in front of a sunny window.

spring blooms

Photo by Karin Lidbeck Brent

A few single branches placed in a container can be breathtaking. I turned this vintage watering can into a decorative door display by winding rope around the base and then on top as the hanger. Two branches of flowering pear are heavenly.

forcintg spring branches

The easiest branches to force are the early spring bloomers such as forsythia, cherry blossoms, pear, and quince. Blooming evergreen andromeda, a shrub with white lily-of-the-valley like clusters, blooms now into May and makes a perfect complement to small arrangements like this spring quince.

forcing spring branches

When styling rooms for photo shoots I go for impact with colorful flowers. Creating a focal point with a large gathering of one single type of flowering branch is an easy way to achieve that. I used galvanized-buckets to hold this mass of cherry blossoms. Despite the bucket’s rustic quality, it looks perfectly at home in this upscale kitchen.

forcing spring branches

I chose long branches of bright pink alstroemaria to fill the void between the ceiling and the table in this dining room with a lofty ceiling. I like to let my flowers have a wild asymmetrical appearance so they look natural.

forcing spring branches

The jolt of yellow forsythia promises spring and it’s worth planting a few bushes in the garden for cutting. When your garden forsythia is just about to bloom, cut long stalks and place them in a watering can to fill particular spaces in your yard and garden that may be calling for color.

forcing forsythia

One of my favorite shrubs for forcing and for cut flowers is the rhododendron. I love the shrub for its sculptural leaf structure and the giant blossoms are sublime to use in arrangements. Rhododendrons are great for making big statements. I placed a mass of these branches in a glass vase inside an open wicker basket.They look perfect on a large coffee table in an open spacious room!

forcing rhododendrons

Photo courtesy of Lewis Interiors

Every season has its bonuses and the huge selection of flowering branches in spring certainly is high on the list for April and May.