Spring beats the season … indoors Essay

Dormant prunings from many deciduous flowering plants can bringspring bloom early to your living room. All you need to do is arrangethem in water and move them to a warm place. For best bloom, cut limbs soon after buds begin to swell in latewinter.

Recut each branch an inch or more from the cut end and immerseit immediately in a large container of water. You can use branches from1 to 4 feet long. Arrange the clippings in ornamental containers while they’restill dormant. (After petals open, flowers tend to shatter if yourearrange them.

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) Move the arranged clippings to a warm place. Watch thegradual transition: smooth-barked whips swell with lumpy buds, thenburst into bloom. You can enjoy a handful of clippings, as in thephotograph above, or a single sculptural branch. For a succession of flowers, keep excess clippings in a bucket ofwater set in a cool place, so they’ll stay dormant longer. Whenthe old bouquet withers, bring in a new cluster of whips. We don’t recommed trying it deliberately, but even clippingsleft out of water for several weeks in cool weather have bloomed. Ifthe slick layer just under the bark (the cambium) is still moist,it’s worth a try.

Which clippings will bloom? Favorites include most deciduousfruits, especially ornamental crabapples, cherries, peaches, and plums;also dogwood, forsythia, deciduous magnolias (cut after buds are welldeveloped), Japanese quince, redbud, spiraea, and pussy willows. If you succeed in forcing early bloom on other woody floweringplants, we’d like to know. Write to the Winter Flower Report,Sunset Magazine, 80 Willow Rd.

, Menlo Park, Calif. 94025.

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