Snapdragon Life helps you rekindle your creativity, reconnect to the natural world & create a slower, more intentional, more joyful way of life.

You’ve viewed

You haven't yet viewed any products on our store. If you've been here before, you may need to sign in.

Blog

Forcing spring branches

Earlier this year the hedges along our road were cut - and as I walked home with Dixie I found mangled elder branches on the ground. They looked completely dormant, but I took them home, popped them into a jam jar of water and waited.

Three weeks later they began to grow leaves, six weeks later there were tiny elder flowers ready to bloom.

It felt like watching magic happen before my eyes and woke me up to quite how simple it is to force spring branches and bring some hope indoors.

It also gives a lovely alternative to flowers when British outdoor grown flowers are in short supply and our gardens are a little sparse.

My windowsills are now covered with jars and vases, each with a different kind of twig and the sun room has a magnificent display of hazel catkins lengthening day by day.

You need

  • Secateurs
  • Twigs or branches
  • Vases, jugs, jam jars, tins - something that can hold water

 

Choosing your branches

Branches will start to come out about six weeks before their natural flowering outdoors. The bud needs to be formed by the natural cold of winter, but then you are simply bringing Spring forward by a few weeks.

Select nice shapes, make your cuts intentional and regard it as a form of pruning rather than simply hacking away.

Cut with a nice clean cut so you don't damage the tree or shrub - take loppers if you want very thick branches, don't just make a mess of the tree with underpowered secateurs of scissors or you risk it becoming ill.

Remember that often the tiniest spring is the most effective - a couple of inches of larch or hornbeam is wonderful on a desk.

Varieties that I am having success with are elder, amelanchier, willow, dogwood, hornbeam, hazel, apple, larch, alder and birch.

Choosing your containers.

I like to use clear glass for things that might develop roots (elder, dogwood, willow) and solid jags and vases for things that might discolour the water quickly (like hazel).

It is important that your sticks don't topple over and the easiest way to do this is to add a stone to the bottom of the jar to weigh it down (a good use for all those beautiful beach pebbles that come home in coat pockets)

I love jars lined up along windowsills - it gives a lovely nature table effect.

Preparing the branches

Take off any leaves or buds that will be under the water line.

Recut the stems at a 45 degree angle (I find that bashing isn't necessary as the sap is rising and the twig is desperate to get the water right to its tip so it really efficient in the spring).

Remember to top up water as sometimes the twigs are really thirsty.

Arrange in a group, line or on a table instead of flowers

 

Share on Pinterest how to force spring branches

You may also enjoy …

Comments: 1 (Add)

You must be signed in to post a comment. If you're already a member, please sign in now. If not, you can create an account here.
Catherine Hunt

Once again Jane you have been the oracle. We are want to make a Willow Bog as an outside toilet. This is helping us to be one step closer. Thank you

Snapdragon social

This week’s Friday film is about a trip to London, a tour of the Chelsea Physic garden and filling my home with flowers when I got home. 
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
If you are interested you know where to find it 🎥
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
These snowdrops are temporarily holidaying in a cup on my bedroom windowsill - looking out at their rather battered friends outside. 
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I’m planning a new part of the garden at the moment and these will be part of a spreading about of the spring bulbs.

Pioneers.
There is a point when the sun slants in and all the dried seed heads which have decorated the house over winter suddenly look dusty and dull.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I have a visceral need to be surrounded by things that are growing and green.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
There is a video over on YouTube about planting up winter aconites and spring bulbs - I have these on my desk at the moment and every now and again there is a wonderful waft of scent reaches me.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
For Studio Clubbers there is now a whole module on planting up bulbs indoors in the Fire and Frost course.  What varieties are best, where to get them, how to treat them and answers to a whole load of questions.
When my daughters were tiny I made their clothes - bright colourwork jumpers, patchwork dungarees, layer upon layer of pattern. 
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Then - ridiculously early it seemed to me - they wanted to choose their own outfits and quickly favoured whatever was fashionable, only available from mainstream shops and my needles were no longer needed. 
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I’m now delighted that two decades on I’m back in action. This is the start of a mend - on my eldest daughter's denim jumpsuit.  The under arm seam was ripped so I'm transforming it with linen flowers.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
You can see more of it in last week's Studio Vlog on YouTube . . 
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I love the idea that the mending will make the jumpsuit into something completely different. That it is as bright and clashing as her toddler clothes. 
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I’ve also been asked for mittens . . .
Today’s Friday letter is all about two steps I took last year which really helped with feelings of being overwhelmed. 
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Today’s Friday film is about a walk by Loch Lomond and just sitting and taking it all in and how that helps manage symptoms of my autoimmune disease. 
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
If you want to know more about either (or both) you can find the details up in my link.

I’ve been in London for a couple of days - to see @thenotgodcomplex perform at The Vaults - now heading back North to see @marychapincarpenter and @karinepolwart at Celtic Connections. 💚
This photo is from last year - we are still a week or two away from full blooms.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
But yesterday, lying on my front in the sodden grass and filming snowdrops, the soundtrack was birds in the birch tree above me.
I still have no water in the Studio. 

On Thursday when I walked up to the kitchen to make a coffee, the sun was streaming into the kitchen.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I can't properly express how happy that makes me. 
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Beauty in the every day. 
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Obviously I'm well past tidying up for photos.
I wonder if it is just when the light is least that I notice it most.  The shadow of birch leaves on our bed as I passed to top up the bird feeders.
Loch Lomond is high at the moment - the beaches gone, the stepping stones to cross burns under water. 
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Sitting, well wrapped up, leaning against a tree on the top path - listening to the waves and watching a cormorant dive - it felt like the sea.

#lochlomond
snapdragon.life
FacebookTwitterPinterest

About Snapdragon Life

At Snapdragon Life I help bring the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

Find out more about The Studio Club

Loading