Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Branching Out

Not a moment too soon, spring has sprung and the dreary days of winter seem to be behind us (at least until next year). Somehow, it seems like those first rays of sunshine feel the warmest, the first ripe seasonal fruits taste the sweetest, and the bright blossoms that seem to be popping out on every tree are the prettiest. While it's fun to get outside during this time (I spent the whole weekend out defiantly revealing my blindingly-white legs in shorts), it's also nice to find ways to bring that spring cheeriness inside. And the best way to do that is to throw open all the windows and bring in a big blossoming arrangement of blooming branches.
Budding branches are available all over at farmer's markets and flower stands (I got all of these forsythia branches for $5!), or you can go out with your pruning sheers and lop some beauties off the bushes and trees in your backyard (attention city dwellers: do not try this in public parks- it's illegal). 
Here are some techniques to make a beautiful, long-lasting springy arrangement with blossoming branches, with enough drama to distract everyone from your pasty-white skin (trust me- it works!)
 1. Select your branches.  Try to find full, straight branches of approxamately the same length, with lots of buds on them.  Look for buds that haven't blossomed yet to get the most milage out of your branches.
2. When you get them home, use pruning or floral sheers to trim the bottom of the branches off. Because they came from a live tree or bush, sapped-over or dried-out stem needs to be trimmed in order for the branch to be able to drink water.
3. Fill a vessel with cool, clean water, and add 1 cap-full of pure bleach to the water (this will help keep the water fresh). Arrange the branches in the vase- don't worry if it turns out wonky or asymmetical- it's that kind of natural organicness that makes arrangements like this pretty. Don't crowd the branches too much- remember to leave room for the flowers to open.

4. That's it! Replace the water (and remember to add bleach) every few days, and your blooming branches should last for weeks- just as long as the ones still attached to the trees. It's certain to put a little spring in your step (and in your living room, too).

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