Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Forcing Birch, Rescued Crocus

Winter lingers in the little valley where my cottage sits. Snow lies thick in the woods, far too deep for casual walking. My location has the distinction of being one of the last places for snow to melt. I have had remnant patches of the white stuff well into late May.

So how do I find spring? What to do to find some kind of seasonal cheer?

Well, for one thing, forcing white birch branchlets gives me a good foretaste of what’s to come. Two weeks ago, I went out in the morning and walking on the hard-frozen snow crust, cut a handful of epicormic (waterspouts) branchlets from a little birch just off the trail.

These were placed in a small vase, watered and the vase set atop my refrigerator. And now, the branchlets are covered with those delightful, lime-green leaves that birch wear so proudly in spring.

Anyone can force the tender, green leaves of spring. You needn’t just use birch branchlets, either. Alders lend themselves to forcing, as do many others, including willow. This has become an annual ritual for me and the same may well become the case with others who try it.

Next, flower and garden shows do much to make me think spring. In fact, I’ll be speaking and signing books at the Manchester Home And Garden Show slated for this Saturday, April 9, at 11 a.m. at the Augusta Civic Center. This sounds like a fun time for all and I’m certain that at the very least, it will put me in a “spring” frame of mind.

Here’s a funny one. Just before last Friday’s snowstorm, I decided to try and save my just-beginning-to-bloom bed of crocus by placing a blue tarp over it. I mentioned this in a previous blog. Today I removed the tarp and what a wonderful sight greeted me. The crocus were mostly all now in full bloom, a beautiful sight, especially against a background of unwelcome snow. It worked! Sometimes we do win, little victories but victories nonetheless.

In a little over two weeks, I suspect that at least a few wild plants will become available. Meanwhile, patience is paramount.

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