forcing branches

As the weather warms in late winter it is time to evaluate what damage the season has done to flowering shrubs and trees and an ideal time for pruning any dead, diseased and damaged stems or branches in the garden. As a reward, I often cut some branches for forcing into flower indoors. Forsythia is the simplest to force into bloom indoors at any time during the winter. But my favorite are the branches of the Eastern redbud tree (Cercis canadensis). After bringing them indoors I recut the branches and also make a vertical cut into the stem. I then arrange them immediately into a vase of warm water making sure to change the water regularly during the several weeks it takes before the flower buds open.

IMG_3430 (2)

happy spring

Unusually warm weather gives us a head start on Spring. I celebrated today by potting up some tropical tubers (Alocasia, Dahlia, etc) in the greenhouse, to get their head start on foliage before the danger of frost outside has passed (technically that’s around April 15th here in Northern New Jersey). Planning summer container gardens for clients as their bulbs and perennials are bursting through the soil makes for a wonderfully busy time in the life of a garden designer.

However, no garden is complete without some fabulous container plantings. Many people balk at the work it takes to pot up and maintain those planters but, as with all plant selection, location is key and so is the right container. Reminding me of this big pot of ferns in a damp, shady spot and requiring little maintenance at Greenwood Gardens in Short Hills, NJ, a fabulous public garden on the national register of historic places I visited last Fall.

And their house-made hypertufa planters…

As we are sweltering under (still) leafless trees I’m reminded of this green “lushness” to come.

Looking forward to a long gardening season… and a re-start of this blog.

succulent cake

Sempervivums are on the top of my list of favorite plants. Their form and function, especially in containers, invaluable to any garden. I was amazed at this display at our rental house in Tuscany where they are happy plants in afternoon shade. Much like a frosted cake, they spill over the large cement container and require little besides a rare drop of rain.