“When Spring Came, Even a False Spring…”


January, despite its promise of another year, can be a long month laden with gray winter skies and weather that is not particularly friendly to outdoor activities.  Despite the increased minutes of daylight – approximately thirty since the Solstice – in January we can begin to long for spring and the feel of gentler days.

One sure way of ushering out the gray light of winter and welcoming in the sense of hope that comes with spring is to force the stems of outdoor shrubs to bloom early.

Hemingway was not writing about forsythia as he reminisced about sitting on a bench in Paris in A Moveable Feast, but his observation has a tie to our feelings about the things we see and otherwise sense with the slightest glimpse of the season.  “When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest…”

With a few branches from a nearby shrub brought inside and placed in water we can encourage a “false spring” to arrive on our desk, in our hallway, our rooms and to a tiny realm of our hearts.  An imaginary bench in Paris is then only a good book and a glass of wine away.pussywillow

Grab some garden clippers this week and head outdoors to your yard or to that of a friend who is willing to share some branches from their shrubs.  Take some extra branches home for them and return them blooming.  Forsythia branches snipped and plunked into a container of water take about 10 days to open.  Kept out of direct sunlight, the blossoms will open progressively and last for about a week.  You can prolong this kind of bouquet by clipping a few new branches and adding them to the water every week.

A handful of short twigs in a small vase or a water glass are a great addition to the demands of a work desk and an armload of tall branches will startle your hibernating senses into consciousness.

When forcing branches remember, the taller the better.  It is helpful to the process to slit the branches you gather with a paring knife about 4 inches up from the bottom and then to slightly smash the ends of the stems with a hammer before dropping the branches in water.

appleOther good candidates to have their beauty forced include pussy willow, apple, crabapple and plum.

“…the only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits.  People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”  Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast.

If you do not have any branches available to force into bloom call one or several of the “very few” and invite them over to your house.  Spring is then only a phone call away.  Click here to wallow in the promise of spring.