Tiptoe through the tulips…

They say winter always ends, but on this first day of spring in upstate New York, winter lingers. Luckily for me, I can pop into a local florist or the floral department at our favorite grocery store and buy beautiful bunches of spring flowers, tulips and pussy willow being two of my favorite harbingers of spring.

After many years of working in a flower shop, I can assure you that tulips are flowers that don’t particularly want to be “arranged”.  I have no desire to use a wire on their stems in an attempt to make them do something against their nature.  I’d much rather put a large bouquet on a vase or other container and enjoy their natural beauty, floppiness included! After they settle in, I can always add another stem or two if the arrangement doesn’t feel quite right.

After bringing your fresh flowers home from the market, you will want to rinse any dirt from their stems and the trim them about 1” using sharp sheers.  If you can cut them at an angle, that gives the stem more surface area to soak up water.  If you change the water and retrim the stems every other day, you should be able to enjoy your spring blooms for at least a week.

Another joy of spring is “forcing” branches indoors.  I’ve had wonderful results with forsythia and pussy willow, although I’m on the lookout for some dogwood or flowering almond.  You’ll want to choose young healthy branches with plentiful flower buds. With branches as with flowers, you will need to recut the stems, but for branches you should also make a vertical slit in the stem using a sharp knife. Place the cut stems in cold water. Frequently misting the branching and changing the water often will enable you to enjoy your branches for quite some time.  That said, I recently read some online advice to not put pussy willow in water, so I decided to try it and see.  I’ve had this bunch for almost a month in this pitcher with no water and they are doing quite well.

So, if there are no bulbs pushing up in your yard or buds popping on your trees and you need a bit of spring, you can book a flight south, stroll through an arboretum, or buy yourself a bunch of tulips and think spring!

C’est la vie.

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