Spring Fever: A Forced Branches Introduction

Forced branches

I woke up this morning wishing for a big vase full of cut Viburnum bodnantense. Lucky for me, it is ever so happily growing in my garden.  I go outside in pajamas, slippers and with coffee and visit my shrub.

To force or not to force-that is the question. Should I wait the month for them to open naturally or take them in?

Felcos in hand I decided to walk around the garden. Checking in on my dear woody bloomers and making sure that there was not something else I should be snipping for arrangements.

AND then it hits! It feels too much like spring and I start fussing around in some sort of gardening autopilot. My January border is brimming with potential.

viburnum bodnantense dawn

The quinces ‘cameo’ and ‘jet trail’ are budded up and ready for the forcing challenge but then there is Corylopsis glabrescens ‘longwood chimes’, which could look so nice cascading out of apothecary jars. Wait! Big branches of Magnolia stelatta and Cornus mas that I could place in large cylinder vases or display in tin fluted urns. And fragrance? What about Lonicera fragrantissima and the many witch hazels?

Since it was 40 degrees, I was able to slow down and take it all in. My coffee was starting to get cold. Slippers and fingers muddy from removing leaves from the base of a stewartia where scilia soon will be emerging. Last year on this very day I could have been shoveling 13” of snow and skating on the frozen vernal pool. I would happily be in winter hibernation where seed and plant catalogs with their tantalizing descriptions and glossy close ups would be enough for me.  Happy that my plants were all tucked in under the snow and were somewhat out of sight. Is this how global warming will affect us gardeners? An early onset of spring fever?

With too many choices to sort out with out a full cup of coffee in system, I decided to snip a few pieces here and there and start an experiment that I will share over the next few weeks: 6 great woody shrubs /ornamental trees that are great in the garden and lovely when utilized in arrangements. Stay tuned!  – Roanne

images from roanne robbins, rogerstone gardens, away to garden, the examiner, sweetbay 103, forest farm, and fantastic plants.  (links to come)

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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.


  1. Patricia on February 2, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    I _love_ the photo of twigs in bottles. It’s just beautiful. It makes me imagine the very serene and simple room it must be in.

  2. Reed on February 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    AWESOME pictures! Great entry! Learned a bunch…

    Thanks a lot!

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