The trees, glazed in ice, quaked in the artic wind, clinking like glass, frozen in Winter’s capable and unrelenting grip.

As Winter continues to flex its muscles, and we again retreat indoors, consider introducing life and color into the home with something other than the standard houseplant, poinsettia or cacti. Look no further than your backyard! Force winter branches, like Honeysuckle, Lilac, Forsythia, Dogwood, Redbud or Pussywillow. Many plants are suitable, but some, like the aforementioned, break dormancy more readily – in as quickly as 2-4 weeks.

Start by choosing healthy specimens, and be keenly aware that you are actually pruning the plant, so be mindful not to damage the health or overall shape of the plant. Choose a day when temps are above freezing. Look for medium-sized branches with lots of buds and cut on the diagonal. Once indoors, crush the ends of the stems (a process called bruising), which will assist with water intake, and then immediately submerge in warm water. If you’re not happy with your initial cut, make a fresh, slanted cut, like you do with flowers, about an inch above the original while the branch is still in water.

Keep branches out of direct sunlight, in a cool place, away from heat vents, fireplaces, etc., and mist the branches on a regular basis to avoid drying out the buds. Be sure to change the water regularly to avoid bacteria, rotting and funky smells. Then, sit back and observe the wonder of nature unfold in your very own home. Arrangements have never been quite as beautiful or unexpected. They also make great, creative and thoughtful Valentine’s Day Gifts.

Plant of the Week

Jane Magnolia

Deciduous shrub produces large, fragrant, reddish-purple flowers with contrasting white interiors on bare branches mid-April to early May, before foliage appears. Blooms later than other varieties, reducing the threat of Spring frost damage. Prefers sun to partial shade and moist, well-drained soil. Grows 8-12′ tall and 8-12′ wide.

“The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size.”

-Gertrude Smith Wister

Warm wishes,

Kim Sweeney