It - forcing cut woody floral branches - really started last winter, January of 2016, when Ferncroft shipped in some Quince branches. She gifted me a couple and I set them up in my office window. Quince I was hardly familiar with (my dad once, while teaching a class, made a point to speak of the joy it could bring someone to tear out the plant because it was so hated), but its single blooms were so clear in their purpose that the plant came to mark a new time.
I had never forced cut material before, but the idea went back very far for me. Once a staple of Buffalo consumer life, the "Buffalo Home and Garden Show," held at the convention center at the beginning of each March, hosted each year a decorator's show house as its main attraction. Starting in the mid-eighties, we, a consortium of green professions, were asked to create a garden around the house. Now, I was probably 8 years old at the time it was first done, but my dad was involved enough that it was part of my life.
And sure, as an eight year old, it was spectacular. In the middle of winter, indoors none the less, plants forced in greenhouses were brought in by the truckload, beds were created, and an entire yard put together in full leaf and bloom in 48 hours time. When the show opened its doors Friday evening, the most phantasmagorical experience was created.
Years later, the same consortium of professions left this project behind and in 2001 started their own independent flower and garden show many of you local would recognize by the name "PLANTASIA." The first show in 2001, the display (that won the award for best of show) my friend Deanna and I designed was the last project I did with the family business before Buffalo Horticulture. Although Dee primarily oversaw the plant forcing, again, it was a major project we collaborated on.
Buffalo Horticulture did a couple exhibits of its own back in 2005 and 2006. I did the plant forcing at the McKinley High school greenhouse as part of a adult horticulture class I was teaching back in that era.
So, now, plant forcing has moved into a new space for me, so-to-speak. On the one hand, its still for show. But it is a different way of showing yourself than the garden shows. Now there is people I share it with as an art almost. There is a conversation around it. I call this "for Liz" as it responds to a post she did on forcing where she most seriously stays clear of "Romance and Narrative." But I aim to show it as just that. There is a spirit in finding branches in your neighborhood - these I foraged from the back of an abandoned church - keeping your eyes peeled, scouting, seeing what is out there. At the same time, building my own garden with the intention of bring material inside. Now, forcing is learning, its experimental, it has a rad edge to it. How much do I know about it? (Shoulder Shrug) Who knows. But. Right now, If you have some Lilac, old VanHouteii Spiraea, or Kwanzan Cherry near, take a minute and make a couple cuts, stick'm in water and put them near a window. When you do it, then you'll know why I think its so "rad." Just simply, its a "way of living," a possibility, and damn...its nice to have flowers around and the intensity the process creates in life makes everything more loving, more careful.
Landscape designer and Proprietor of Buffalo Horticulture