Tuesday, January 26, 2010

.........the bulb patrol

Anna always won....
the bulb patrol.... it was a bit of a contest of sorts at our Hockley Valley Garden.

Anna always scoped the place and found the first bulb popping up through the warming soil.

The snowdrops were first - under a birch clump at the edge of the woodland garden - viewed from our garden room ...so called as it was set on the north side of the house and calling it a sunroom seemed overly optimistic!

The delicate blooms were often hastening spring - blooming even under the blanket of snow.

I recall a year that spring came extra-ordinarily early - Jennifer was visiting from Edmonton - the morning started with a foot of snow on the deck - it was so unusually warm and sunny (plus 20 !) - that the snow melted by noon
by 2pm - what had been frozen soil mere hours ago - was filled with emerging crocus- by 230 - the crocus now accompanied by the iris reticulata were opening up to full bloom - it was like watching time lapsed photography!!! They opened, they fried, they died - by 4pm it was all over but the crying!

My fav's - I have two - Muscari (also called Grape Hyacinths - why do we call flowers so many different names anyway?) and Fritillaria Meleagris (that's quite a mouthful - if only it had another name!) (although I have heard it called chocolate lily???)

anyway - the point is - we got in our first shipment from our greenhouse today - of Muscari (pictured above)

....Spring can surely not be that far off now !!!

hope to see you at our Cabin Fever Breakaway Brunch - Feb 21st - there we will be sharing secrets to forcing branches and bulbs to early indoor bloom - and decorating with the potted bulb - we call it the Moss Thread - and you can see it on Daily Web TV - access it through our website

Saturday, January 16, 2010

...time to force a little spring !

It’s time to Force a Little Spring!
Here are some of my tips on forcing branches:

It’s that time of year again!

You know, I have been cutting branches and forcing them into bloom now for 40 odd years – and it still strikes me as magical!

It’s a stretch to believe that what seems like dead sticks in the middle of winter, will actually sprout not only lovely tender green leaves, but actually flower! This is a really fun activity to do with young children, who indeed must think it is magic!

You will need to choose a day when the temperature is going up at least 5 degrees – better if it is 10. It can be very, very cold – well below zero – it just has to be going up. Also it is best to do this on a sunny day – because what we are actually doing is tricking the plant into thinking that Spring has arrived.

Cut the branches longer than you intend them to be in your arrangement. This is because you will need to give them another clean cut (about 3 inches) when you bring them back into the house and place them into a vase. The stem will have already formed a scab at the cut as a natural protection to lock in whatever moisture or nutrition it has to sustain itself (pretty clever of Mother Nature I’d say).

Now give some scientific thought to this – if we continue to trick the branches into thinking it is Spring – what happens in Spring? It gets sunny, warmer, the frost comes out of the soil and the water can begin to get to the roots and ergo, the branches once again.

So – having said all of that – we need to get water up those stems – fast - and there are two recommended ways to do that. One is to hammer the ends of the stems to soften the wood. My preferred method is to give the branch a cut vertically up the stem, sort of splitting it in half, exposing the inner stem to the water.

Place the branches in cool to tepid water – NOT hot – afterall in spring the plant would be getting very cold water in fact – so we do not want to shock the poor thing. Similarly place the vase near sunshine – but not in the direct south-west sunny window – you will fry it!

Wait anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, changing the water weekly to avoid bacteria in the water – and amazing! Blossoms!!!

The two that bloom the quickest are Forsythia and Magnolia – my theory is because they are also the first to bloom in the spring. I have tried just about every shrub and flowering tree over the years and I find that you can force just about anything that blooms in the garden before mid-to late May (zone 6 ish). I have had some luck once or twice with Lilacs, but really it seems to be all in the way you hold your mouth frankly – absolutely no rhyme or reason to it. So why not - just try it !

Here are the ones I have found to be most successful:

Forsythia, Magnolia, Quince, Deutzia, Purple Sandcherry, Bradford Pear, Mock Orange , Schubert Cherry, Dogwood, Apple, Peach, Plum, Cherry, Sweet Almond, Azalea

Friday, January 15, 2010

..thinking outside the chocolate box !

Vintage Gardener,
This Valentines Day...
is thinking outside the Chocolate Box.

Vintage Gardener
and Tappo Wine Bar & Restaurant

The Distillery Historic District
Saturday February 13
11:30am to 2 (ish)
$175 for Two

Bring your Diva out for a Valentines to remember!
First you'll be welcomed with Champagne & Chef's choice amuse bouche,
Next you'll be elbows deep in roses, as Vintage Gardener (featured in Nov. Style at Home) guides you to create your own three dozen Opera Bouquet of Roses,
followed by an Elegant 3 course Luncheon at
Tappo Wine Bar & Restaurant (cover story for Dining Out Magazine)
and topped off with
Celebrated Jazz & Blues performer Errol Fisher
Now That's Outside the Box!

416.364.6232 elaine@vintagegardener.com

Thursday, January 14, 2010

........coming up in February !

Vintage Gardener presents……

A Cabin Fever Breakaway
….a festival for gardeners longing for Spring!!!

Join us in The Distillery Historic District, where spring comes early this year at our Cabin Fever Breakaway.
If you are a gardener longing for warm soil under your nails and the site of the first Robin,
this may be just what the doctor ordered!

Cabin Fever Breakaway Festival starts with our annual Cabin Fever Breakaway Brunch
(always a sell-out crowd!) Feb 20th

and continues to Feb 28th with daily workshops, and even a floral contest !!!
A great day with your client, mother or your friends…...
details: vintagegardener.com 416-364-6232