Force it

Gail picking ForsythiaAnyone who has ever been to a flower show in February or March knows that the exhibitors work very hard to manipulate the seasons.  We’re all so ready by now for winter’s end – especially when there’s more snow in the forecast – that it’s a delicious thing to walk into a cavernous room filled to the corners with plants in fully impossible bloom.  I used to go to the Northwest Flower and Garden Show even when I didn’t have a patch of ground to my name just to see and smell spring and pretend the sun was shining.  This year I missed the Rhode Island Flower Show but … drum roll, please … I’m headed to PA for my first ever glimpse of the one and only Philadelphia Flower Show.  I’m prepared to be overwhelmed.

Quince buds 2-26-09Meanwhile, we’re forcing the season just a little too.  Forsythia and Quince will come pretty quickly indoors now – The buds on the branches we picked should be starting to break in a week or so – just in time for my return to work after a little vacation.  Now is also the time to prune the fruit trees so we also picked up some flowering crabapple branches that Fred and Dan had worked on.  Those will take a little longer to open up.  The best branches for forcing are the ones you’ve removed for shaping rather than the long sucker-y water shoots.  When you bring branches inside, make a new sharply angled cut, split it vertically a couple of inches or some say to even smash it a little to expose more pith to the water.  For faster forcing, use very warm water and change it daily; to slow down the bloom, keep the branches in a cool room, in cool water.

I’m looking forward to my trip but I really wonder if I’ll see anything as lovely as this lichen which, since it’s living on a downed branch,  is only about as long for our world as a flower show exhibit.   While we’re on the subject of lichens…  did you know that they are actually a partnership of two organisms – a fungus and an alga?  I didn’t!  I also just learned here that Beatrix Potter, famous for Flopsie, Mopsie and Mr. McGregor, is credited with first proposing the existence of that relationship (which scientists are still debating about defining as “parasitic”).  Learn something new everyday.

Lichen on a broken winterberry branch

Will I see any of you in Philadelphia?  I’ll be sure to compare notes and share pictures (if I manage to get any) when I get back the week after next.  Think spring and force it if you have to!

6 thoughts on “Force it

  1. Love the lichens! I think I knew that and forgot it. That is happening more these days. Oh well. I will look forward to hearing about your experience at the Philly Flower Show. I did go about four years ago. It was worth another trip! Have fun and don’t forget to have a Philly steak sandwich while you are there.

    Layanee, I’ve never been to Philly so of course their specialty sandwich is on my list of musts! -kris

  2. It’s dawn in Phila. and I am writing from my sister’s apt. high above Rittenhouse Square, the lights of the city just starting the new day. Was at the Phila. Flower Show yesterday and had the treat of seeing it as it was almost ready to open. The theme is Bella Italia and it sure is bella and Italia! The plants are starting to arrive as they are the last thing to install. but the architrctural elements (arbors! columns! fountains! water rills, balconies!clay-tiled roofs, They;re all here and glorious. The icing on the cake will be the flowers and trees added today. And until you see the Milan “fashion show”of dresses, shoes and hats, all concocted of live plants! Hurry! Have fun!

    Ginny – I can’t wait! (I’m already packed and waiting by the door…) -kris

  3. I live in Missouri and am driving to see the Flower Show for the first time as well. My sister and I are leaving Thursday and will be there the last couple days. We are so excited and are hoping that going the last few days of the show will not be disappointing because of displays wilting, etc. Hope you have a wonderful time.

    You too, Melinda! -kris

  4. Hey… when are you going to be in town. we hope to go Wednesday afternoon/evening? do you like Burmese food? check out Rangoon… we will be going when we go to the show.

    Wayne, I wish I had seen this comment before going! I’ve never had Burmese food… -kris

  5. I visited the website for for Philadelphia Flower Show, and it certainly looks as though it will be well worth the trip! I hope to make it one of these days. I am looking forward to pictures and details!!

    Hi Liisa – it was well worth it! -kris

  6. Ooooh, I’m so jealous. I’m not going to be able to go, but I just know you’ll have a great time. I’ve been “forcing the season” on my own way … ordering my gardening supplies.

    I went and put in my order for fertilizer and a few seasonals at the local IGA, then I ordered my Woman’s Work women’s gardening gloves. I especially like these because they have a ventilated back and very tough fingertips. I gave away my last pair to a friend who was leaving for England, so now I need a fresh pair. Being an optimistic type, expecting early sun, I also ordered a new gardener’s sun hat (after the dog developed a taste for raffia!)… Oh for those first little snowdrops and crocuses…

    Marion, sometimes the right tool is just what you need to get excited about getting back to work. -kris

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