Wellesley forsythia forcing follow up: it’s a bright-yellow party at my house

Last week I took Swellesley readers through a how-to on forcing forsythia, that workhorse shrub of cheerfulness that busts out its golden bells in early spring. In time, forsythia, will, of course, simply bloom all on its own outdoors. The earlier varieties are starting to do just that. Still, given my skill set, waiting on spring seemed unnecessary. My patience is being tested in so many ways right now, why must I wait for a riot of color in my life? I wanted to make something happen, to move and shake in some small way. I can’t control the flowering of a global pandemic, but I can control the flowering of forsythia. Gardener or a control freak? Sometimes I wonder.

Wellesley forsythia blooms

From the suburban wilds of my backyard to the confines of a vase, the forsythia shrubs got a good shearing all in the name of floral design. They were unwieldy anyway, their branches shooting out this way and that. A good cutting has made for a tidier shrub outside, and a wild-looking arrangement to be taken inside. The natural world turned upside down.

Forcing forsythia, Wellesley

Several days later, a party burst out in confined quarters. That’s what happens when you throw a bunch of branches together into a warm-water bath, a hot-tub for flowers, if you will.

Forcing forsythia, Wellesley

I do it all for Mr. Swellesley, who demands fresh flowers at his workspace at all times. My co-editor may be high-maintenance, but he gets results, so I put up with his demanding nature.

Forcing forsythia, Wellesley

On my kitchen windowsill, a secondary arrangement gazes out the window as yesterday’s snow starts.

Snowy topiary, Hunnewell, Wellesley

The best time to go for a walk while maintaining social distancing is most definitely during a March snow squall. Deer sightings outnumbered the people (8 to 6). I accessed the Lake Waban path from Pond Rd., and kept to the Hunnewell property part of the path so as to avoid Wellesley College. The school is closed to visitors now to protect the students who remain on campus, some of whom have medical conditions and take the need to quarantine themselves seriously.

Wellesley cows, Hunnewell

Cows at Hunnewell Farm. By this point in my walk I was weary and longing for a hot cuppa tea. The final stretch was a trudge, my sneakers wet, my vision blurred as I battled a headwind. I let my sodden gear drop on the mud room floor and opened the door to the house proper. A wall of central heating hit me as I made my way further into the coziness of hallway, family room, and finally, dining room.

“Hey there, how was your walk?” shouted the forsythia. It’s in full bloom now, and can’t keep quiet for anything.

“Quiet, lonely, desolate, blustery, cold,” I replied.

“Never mind that now,” said the forsythia. “Things are just fantastic here. I’m loving these warm temperatures you have going on. Very nice.”

That’s the thing about forsythia indoors. The blooms may be forced, but the cheerfulness isn’t. Just what I need right now.


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