One-day wonder

Flowering branches say spring
Lauren Bonar Swezey

There's nothing like large vases filled with blooming branches to announce the arrival of spring. Just trim the branches from deciduous flowering trees or shrubs, arrange them in a vase, and watch the delicate buds unfurl.

Pruning at this time of year is good for your tree too; it thins out the canopy so branches won't be overcrowded.

Follow the steps below to create your own spectacular arrangement.

If you don't have a flowering tree or shrub, you can buy blooming branches at many floral shops.

Flowering trees and shrubs for cutting

Fruit trees such as apricot, cherry, crabapple, nectarine, peach, and plum
Quince
Forsythia
Mimosa (Acacia baileyana)
Saucer magnolia
Witch hazel

 

TIME: 15 to 20 minutes

COST: About $15 to 20 for a bunch of branches from a florist

MATERIALS

Pruning shears or loppers
Ladder
Vase
Floral preservative

DIRECTIONS

1. Prune your tree. When buds show color or a few flowers are beginning to open, choose a branch that's crowding other branches or is expendable (make certain you don't cut a branch that will ruin the shape of the tree). Use pruning shears to cut small branches, or loppers to remove branches larger than 1 inch in diameter. Cut one branch for a smaller vase and three to five branches for a large vase or floral bucket.

2. If necessary, trim the stem ends to fit the vase. Snip off dead or damaged twigs.

3. On smaller stems, cut a slit in the bottom of the branch to help the stem absorb water more easily. On larger branches (3/4- to 1-inch diameter), lightly hammer the stem end for the same effect.

4. Fill the vase with water and a packaged floral preservative or a solution of 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon bleach in 1 gallon of hot tap water. Arrange the branches.