Monthly Archives: February 2014

Just….Can’t….Wait……..

Time to talk about forcing branches again. Let’s go back in time  and see what was up  here last year and then talk about what you can cut today……

If you cut branches from crab apples, Japanese Maples, quince, Amelanchier ( service berry),  or pear trees today, within 15-20 days you will have their flowers gracing your mantel or table.

If you have less patience ,then go for some Magnolia ( dreamy dreamy dreamy ), Fragrant Honeysuckle (lonicera fragrantissima) Andromeda , Cercis ( red bud) or any Prunus (cherry) tree and you can catch a little glimpse of Spring in your living room in less than two weeks.

If you are dancing around the kitchen whining about spring  like a little kid who has to use the potty  then  cut some Red Maple, Cornus Mas ( Cornelian dogwood) ,Pussy Willows , or Forsythia and brighten up your day on Feb 28 or so.

If you just can’t wait one second longer then I hope you have had the foresight to plant on your property one or more Hamamelis x intermedia, as they could possibly be in bloom now , and if not they will force in 1-3 days.

I have already started and have red bud and forsythia blooming in the house now, and magnolias in bud ready and waiting. Tomorrow  I will brave the snow that is waist high to cut some crab apples, azaleas and callery pears , the latter of which smells horrible but looks awful pretty  and get them going as well. I am waiting much later this year to try viburnum carlesii and lilacs and hope for success with both.

This week in MA we will have warm temps  of 40-50 degrees which is perfect for branch cutting. I cut them on an angle and immediately get them into a vase of cool water, then place them in indirect light until they bloom.  Because they will be in the vase for an extended period I  add floral preservative to help the water stay clear longer and change the water completely every 6 or 7 days.

Once they are in bloom you can combine them with any flowers you get at the florist or market especially of you cut smaller branches,  or leave them standing alone if they are large branches. Either way it is an early dose of  Spring  that is guaranteed to lift your drab winter spirits.003

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Spring Countdown

As I went to add the Spring Countdown timer to the blog this morning, I thought wouldn’t it be dreamy to take a look back at Spring here in the Burrow ? We just got a fresh new “coating ” of 12 inches of snow, and although I adore winter, I also miss and long for the color and vibrancy of the spring garden. I am no psychology guru , but I believe that it is this very  longing for the next season to arrive that  may be the sole reason I never mind the one I am currently in!

That said, I have also been updating some presentations with new photos, organizing the photo folders on my computer and backing them up which has caused me to stumble upon some that were to good not to share. So get a cup of cocoa and click the link below to the slideshow page, then literally scroll through the past few springs here . Enjoy!

Spring Slide Show

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Dogwoods

Living in New England where gray skies and leafless trees dominate our winter landscape, a wonderful way to add much needed color to the garden is by using what are commonly referred to as Red Twig Dogwood shrubs (even though some are flame colored, orange-y or even yellow). There are a few different species , and many cultivars that will all do well in our USDA growing zone and require little care once established.

Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ (sometimes called ‘Winter Flame’) is the least common of the bunch. It will grow to about 5 ft x 5ft and sports showy yellow, orange and red, almost glowing stems in the winter. If you have ever visited Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston and seen their very well done winter garden, ‘Midwinter Fire’ is the  backbone and show stopper of the garden above the turtle fountain and pondaf

Even smaller and perfectly suitable for container growing is cornus sanguinea ‘Arctic Sun’proven_winners_cornus_arctic_sun_red_twig_dogwood1

Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’ called tatarian dogwood, has lovely variegated leaves in the warmer months and very twiggy bright red stems in the winter. It can grow to be 8 feet tall.  A dwarf form Cornus alba ‘Ivory Halo ‘is also available.032005

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Cornus alba ‘Silver and Gold’ had variegated leaves and brilliant yellow stems in winter. Cornus alba ‘Budd’s Yellow’ is another great  yellow twig dogwood, both will grow to be 5-7 ft. i have had a tricky time with my yellow twig dogwoods because they are bunny magnets. I tried caging them off , and last year I went so far as to add a thick planting of big leaf coreopsis all around the base of the shrubs inside the cage. That seems to have helped immensely and they now seem on the mend. The photo below was taken at Tower Hill Botanic Garden , look how the yellow dogwood stems play off the foliage of the chamaecyparis ( the evergreen) to the right, pure garden genius!011 (2)

 

I cut and use lots of stems in my winter containers and inside arrangements too.016 (2)026

All dogwood shrubs share the common characteristics of being tolerant of a wide range of soils including very wet and boggy ones, growing in sun to part shade and being easy to care for. They also will self layer, meaning stems low to the ground that touch the soil will send out roots so over time you can either separate and dig up the new baby shrubs  and give them away to happy gardening friends or start a thicket . I usually go for the thicket and/or relocating them somewhere here since I have so much space. ( But if you were here and asked me nicely I would not hesitate to get the shovel and share).

The only suggested maintenance is renewal pruning; or removing 1/3 of the oldest stems to the ground annually. This will prompt the shrub to put out lots of new growth, and it is this  young bark that has the most vivid winter color.As dogwood stems age they become dark and gray in color and really, since our world is already dark and gray in color during winter it is best to try to remember to thin them in the spring so your color starved garden soul will have a treat.

 

 

 

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