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      Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

      Showing posts with label forcing. Show all posts
      Showing posts with label forcing. Show all posts

      Thursday, January 17, 2013


      One week ago today, on that warm Jan 10th, I toured my roof garden aching for signs of spring. There was one tattered white hellebore in bloom and FLOWER BUDS swelling on the quince. Don't tell a soul, but I couldn't resist. I 'pruned' two small branches. Of course the shrub is a dwarf variety and thus small by nature.
      For indoor forcing, I like to mist stems with warm water before placing in a vase with warm water, then place in a warm room with bright light. One week later the buds are swelling to the 'popcorn' stage and I can see a little color.
      Before too long, maybe another week, I expect some bloom, maybe like this.

       Cut any shrub or tree to force that blooms before leafing, like quince, forsythia, apple, cherry or crab. Do it now to help you last through the rest of the winter. And don't forget to change the water every few days.

      Wednesday, December 14, 2011


      Win a copy of Art Wolk's informative and hilarious book," Bulb Forcing: for beginners and the seriously smitten." All you have to do is comment directly below this post or for the tech challenged, email me and I'll add your comment section: 75 words or less describing your greatest success or failure in bulb forcing.

      Garden Bytes publishers Ellen Spector Platt and Ellen Zachos will judge your comments and announce the winner on the blog. Entry deadline, Jan 2, 2012. The book is a beautiful hardback, signed by the author, published at $32.95 with free shipping courtesy of GardenBytes.com .(above, Crocus tomasinianus, 'Ruby Giant' forced in a pot)

      Now is the time for New York City gardeners and all urban gardeners with tiny or non-existent outdoor spaces to think of growing bulbs indoors. Ok, you people with huge gardens are also invited to add the pleasure of winter blooms to your indoor space.

      I've been forcing bulbs since girlhood but as I read Wolk's book I kept thinking with wonderment, 'I didn't know that.' He reveals all from his vast experience; how using a heat mat under a pot or increasing room heat forces the two or three amaryllis flower stalks within a bulb to shoot up and bloom simultaneously for a grand display.
      I never realized that tap water that contains fluoride would probably kill the freesias I was trying to force (OMG, so THAT'S why...) Try layering your bulbs, explore a different species like anemones or ranunculus, plant a multi-species pot.(three photos above courtesy Art Wolk, from his book "Bulb Forcing." Directly above, Wolk's 13-division daffodil display at the 1999 Phila. Flower Show)

      Maybe you don't want to compete for the big blue ribbon wins as Wolk does. I'm happy with a few hyacinths in water in a color to compliment my new gift African violet (see below). But in "Bulb Forcing" I discovered why my hyacinth stems are so short. If you want to learn the secret, win the book, or even (gasp) buy it.

      Monday, April 18, 2011

      For forty weeks is just a pile of twigs or undistinguished green leaves. But if you look closely in mid-January tiny bud balls appear. They swell through early spring and in mid-April this quince bush bursts into full bloom. It's planted on my block, not in a garden, border or container, but by itself, surrounded by a protective industrial fence, next to the driveway of a parking garage. Just one shrub with big white stones at the base, maybe to keep down weeds, hold in moisture and set off the flowers.Who planted it and why a quince? (double click on images to enlarge)
      I've been highly tempted in early spring to do some surreptitious pruning myself, forcing the branches into early bloom in my living room, but so far my better self has prevailed.
      Below, forced apricot branches that I BOUGHT at the Greenmarket.

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