At this time of year its nice to have some flowers from the garden to enjoy indoors, but with the snow only just gone and the snowdrops just emerging there is not much to fill a vase. This is when your trees and shrubs can help and provide you with lots of branches for forcing indoors.
Forcing branches means you are speeding up the blooming of the flowers on them. The buds that you can see on your trees and shrubs in the garden at the moment will be tight shut, but if you bring them indoors into the warm their period of dormancy will be broken.
Here is a few branches I cut from the garden at the beginning of last week to fill a vase. As you can see from the second and third pictures the leaves are just starting to emerge now. Next week I will take some more pictures to show you how the vase looks then.
Forcing branches is very simple. You just need to have a look at what you have in your garden and take some cuttings of branches with nice full buds. Some of the branches I have chosen are flowering quince, viburnum and exochorda ‘the bride’. Other examples you could use are forsythia, lilacs, cherry/apple/plum trees, witch hazel, flowering dogwood or deutzia.
Take the cuttings at an angle to provide as big a surface area as you can for water uptake. You can also make a small vertical slit up the stem which will increase water uptake too. Then place the branches in a vase of lukewarm water indoors, somewhere warm but not in direct sunlight. Change the water every few days and within a few weeks you will be able to enjoy a colourful display of flowers in your home.