CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- My friend Kim sent an article to me about forcing blooms inside, and then I started seeing it in all of the garden magazines right now -- so I'm trying it at home.
While the branches of flowering shrubs are sleeping outdoors, you can bring them inside and force them to wake up and brighten your home.
I've cut shoots of forsythia and redbud. If you have crabapple, wild plum or serviceberry, those will work, too.
I cut some small branches that are 12 to 24 inches long and about as big around as a pencil. I stuck them into a bucket of water and then threw the whole thing into the shower where I ran a tepid spray on the branches for a few minutes. (This idea came from Better Homes & Gardens magazine.)
Following the shower, I wrapped the branches in a plastic bag and put the bucket of branches in the basement where it's cool and dark.
Now we wait. It can take a few days or weeks for the buds to swell.
Once they are ready, I'll bring them up to the kitchen where I'll put them in a favorite vase, and I'll dream of spring!
A pink blueberry
Here's something new and different: a blueberry that has pink fruit. "Pink Lemonade" has clusters of bright pink berries with a mild, sweet flavor. It grows to 5 feet tall, and has light pink, bell-shaped flowers in the spring, dappled pink fruit that turns deep pink in the summer, glossy green leaves that turn from yellow to orange in the fall, and reddish-brown stems in the winter.
Developed by Briggs Plant Propagators, the shrub requires high light levels and well-drained, acidic soil.
Novice and experienced gardeners can learn to make the most of their backyard landscape with a new workshop series being offered by West Virginia State University Extension Service. The "In Your Backyard" gardening series is a 10-part course that will run from March until September at the Pumpkin Park in Milton.