Blooming March Marvels
Although many days at the start of March already feel and look like springtime, the official first day of spring is Thursday, March 20, 2003. This prelude to the vernal season means lots of blooming garden varieties that can be cut and brought indoors for our pleasure. Growing and blooming in the garden, to name just a few, are daffodils, camellias, winter hellebores, flowering branches, adorable primroses and other flowering annuals. Brighten up your indoor living space by making simple centerpieces with all these budding beauties.
There are about 25 species of daffodils and 13,000 hybrids. A common question among Good Gardeners is the difference between Narcissus and Daffodils. Narcissus is the botanical name for all daffodils, so the two words are synonymous. Many gardeners refer to daffodils as jonquils. However, the term 'jonquil,' according to the American Daffodil Society, is generally only correct when describing daffodils that "are characterized by several yellow flowers, a strong scent, and rounded foliage."
No matter what you call them or what variety you have growing in your garden, all daffodils look spectacular when cut and brought indoors!
Cut your daffodils before they are fully open. Make sure to leave the foliage, as that is nourishment for next year's crop. You can cut off the leaves when they begin turning yellow.
Condition 'daffs' in cool water with a bit a sugar. Daffodils unlike most cut flowers don't like to be combined with other varieties. The reason: 'daffs' when first cut emit a toxin that can actually kill other flowers.
If you have different varieties blooming, create an arrangement to show off all their variations. I design mine in a long narrow container that more or less lines them up like soldiers.
Another one of my absolute favorites are camellias. Their ruffly full blossoms are simply magnificent and indoors they make an impact too.
Camellias need to be cut short. Cut them just a few inches down from their blooms. Due to their short stems, camellias work best floating in water or with the illusion that they are floating.
For an Asian flair, use a shallow glass bowl filled with water and a few rocks or marbles. Then place chopsticks side by side across the top of the bowl. Chopsticks vary in length, so make sure the chopsticks are at least 1-inch longer than the diameter of the bowl. Now slip the camellia stem(s) through the chopsticks to draw water. The chopsticks will support the impressive blossom(s). Such a simple arrangement is stunning and stylish.
By the way, you'll want to fertilize camellias this spring after they are finished blooming. Use a fertilizer that is high in acid. For a homemade camellia fertilizer recipe, go back to the main page of Good Gardening and select 'Growing Camellias' from the 'How To' list.
The hellebores is a delightful flower that lasts very well when cut. Place just one fat stem in a narrow necked vase. In March, green hellebores is especially appropriate because St. Patrick's day is Monday, March 17, 2003.
There are more than 425 species of primroses! Whatever the variety, these annuals look grand when arranged in vintage and petite teapots or teacups. Simply cut several stems and rubberband them together. Then insert them into the tea containers for a Victorian and romantic feel.
Deciduous Blooming Branches
Big vases of forced flowering branches make great indoor displays. Forsythia, cherry, crab apple, plum, flowering quince, tulip magnolia, and pussy willow can all add dramatic impact to your decorating scheme.
Simply cut the branches when they are first budding or even when in full bloom. With a pair of sharp pruners, slit their very tough woody ends. This will allow the flowering branches to drink water easily. Tall and heavy urns work best to support the weight of their stems. Fill these vessels with luke warm water that has been treated with commercial floral preservative or granulated sugar and a dash of household bleach.