Saturday, March 21, 2009

Forcing Branches

These Korean azaleas are so pretty, I have fallen in love with them. My friend Elaine sent me branches through the mail in early march. They were wrapped in wet paper towels to keep them moist. I put them in water and in a few weeks they began to bloom, all pink and frilly. What a joy, especially this time of year when it is still cold and dank and muddy in northern New England.
The botanical name is azalea mucronulatum 'Cornell Pink'. (Not to be confused with rhododendron yedoense, which is also called Korean azalea). This is a tall azalea which thrusts upward rather than mounding. It needs the same acid soil and dappled shade as other azaleas. It is an early bloomer which makes it a great plant for forcing. Elaine thinks it would be hardy here (she is in Connecticut about a zone warmer I think) and is rated for zone 5 . A flower this beautiful is certainly worth trying even on my cold hillside.
Forcing branches into flower is easy, all you have to do is pick them in late winter and put them is a vase of water out of direct sunlight. I think I will try to be more experimental next year and try things beyond the ubiquitous forsythia (though that is a wonderful flash of yellow in the house when outside it is still all snow and mud).

Find of the Day:
I seem to be featuring a lot of soap on this gardening blog but who can resist soap as beautiful as this? These gorgeous translucent bars could be a centerpiece on the table.
The soap is called Ocean Rain and is a glycerin based soap. Only $4.75 from karenssoaps on Etsy.


Anonymous said...

How nice of your friend to mail some branches for you to force! I am from Michigan orginally, so I know it can be a long wait for spring's arrival. We've moved about 200 miles south to central Ohio, and springs seems to me to come much earlier. It's probably only a week or two sooner, and a few degrees warmer, but I'll take it.

lynn'sgarden said...

Your photos are really lovely and artistic. I love that pale pink azalea. We do vacations in Sunapee, NH..are you anywhere near there?