Forcing Cherries


Since we don’t have any forsythia on our property, I usually force a few branches of the flowering cherry from our backyard. As it needed some major pruning this year, it proved doubly fortuitous. There’s no difficult science involved in forcing spring blooms. Once the buds swell in late winter, I trim a few, put them in a large bucket filled with water, store them in a garage overnight to slowly acclimate them to warmer temps, then bring them in and let nature take its quick-forced course. Some people advise submerging the branches entirely in water for a few hours to re-hydrate them as much as possible, but since we don’t have a bathtub that’s not an option, nor has not doing it ever impeded the blooms from opening.

It is just the thing for a late-showing spring, and since the weather remains so cold and gray, it’s a boon to the spirit. This particular cherry is a single flowered species – a much-simpler version of the flashier hot pink Kwanzan cherries that are everywhere. It is also one of the first to open, bursting into bloom as if in a race with its own fine foliage, and usually beating it. Towards the end of the blooming period, the petals take on the slightest tinge of pink, edged delicately with a darker border ~ an elegant send-off before fluttering to the ground.

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