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.

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winter-flowering shrub

Lots of different shrubs grow in my “rental garden”. Most of them are planted as a hedge and have not seen any pruning shears for years -until I moved in. They serve their purpose by providing a green “privacy screen” in the summer months but some stand out as a fantastic plant to use elsewhere. One such plant is flowering Viburnum (Viburnum x bodnantense, zone 5-8) I think the variety I have here is called ‘Pink Dawn’.
What I love most about this plant is its flowering time. It has fragrant, long lasting, rose-pink flowers on bare, reddish bronze branches and is in bloom before anything else in this garden (Jan./Feb.). 
Most years it is too cold to sit outside to enjoy so I  prune the branches and force them to bloom indoors . 
blooming Viburnum