If you can barely wait for spring-blooming trees and shrubs to flower, get a head start on the season by cutting some bud-laden branches while the weather is still cool.
Bring them indoors to a warm, sunny spot, allowing the cut ends to stand in a container of water. To avoid air pockets from interfering with water uptake, trim an inch or two off the cut end of the branch while it's underwater. In a few weeks, the buds will unfurl their petals and leaf out in response to the warmth.
You'll be rewarded with blooms from golden yellow forsythia, fuzzy pussy-willow catkins and the delicate pink and white petals that cherry and pear trees ordinarily hold tightly closed for another month. Another good candidate for this "forcing" technique is the Japanese maple, whose lace-cut leaves add interest to late-winter arrangements.
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Just in time for March Madness, here's a new way for University of Kentucky fans to decorate in true blue and white. Realizing that Kentucky is home to great gardeners and avid sports enthusiasts, a company called Rooting Interest created an officially licensed Big Blue 16-inch fiberglass composite planter pot, marked with a white UK logo.
Go to the company's Web site, www.rootinginterest.com, for a list of where the planters are available at retail stores in Central Kentucky. The cost is about $40. Or call Doug Reed at (859) 221-3434. Initial deliveries are under way, and the online ordering system should be running by March 15.
And to go with it ...
Certified by celebrity garden expert Joe Gardener as one of his 2010 "best of the must-haves," the new U-Can is the brainchild of inventor Jim Ugone, who said the idea was "born out of experience and not necessity."
Not only is this bright blue two-gallon watering can made in the United States out of recycled plastic, but it's well-balanced and ergonomically designed, contains a built-in fertilizer storage chamber, a measuring cup and spoon, and even a place to tuck in gloves.
Go to www.theucanbrand.com, where you can order it for $29.95.
House opens on Delaware
There's a new design service shop in town, called simply House. Partners Jeremy Rice, J. Stuart Hurt and Dewayne Anderson, known as "the boys," were already collaborating to decorate living and business spaces in JSD Designs. Now they've set up shop at 1583 Delaware Avenue.
A grand opening is set for 10 a.m. on March 19 and 20. There will be seminars in floral arranging and exterior home decorating for spring. House's Web site, www.housebyjsd.com, is represents the upbeat style and down-home comforts offered in this new house. They're already thinking about Christmas and about fresh ideas in floral, home and event planning.
For more information, call (859) 523-3933.
Extension for all gardeners
Want to start a garden, but just don't know where to start? One valuable resource which has been around for generations is your county Cooperative Extension office, which offers ideas, advice and even soil-testing services to help you get going in the right direction.
In Fayette County, March By the Yard ..., a horticulture newsletter that agent Jamie Dockery and friends put together, is online at http://ces.ca.uky.edu/fayette/horticulture. It contains timely information about how to dig into a new vegetable garden and a list of seminars in the Gardener's Toolbox series of classes: "The Humble Potato" on March 16, "Principles of Pruning on March 18, and "Introduction to Vegetable Gardening" on March 25.
Classes start at 6:30 p.m. at the office, 1140 Red Mile Place, and costs range from $10 to $40. The classes fill up quickly. Call (859) 257-5582 to reserve a spot.
Also at the extension office at 10 a.m. April 17, the Kentucky Christmas Tree Association will hold its sixth annual plant auction, with a wide selection of perennials and balled and burlapped landscape trees and shrubs. Because members donate the plants, specific product information isn't available in advance, but great bargains can usually be found there. For more information, call Bill and Fredda Moody of the Christmas Memories Tree farm at (859) 223-1140.
Blue Grass Trust Antiques and Garden Show is now
The Blue Grass Trust Antiques and Garden Show is going on at Keeneland this weekend. More than 60 exhibitors from all over the country, local dealers, and home improvement and horticultural product dealers are there. For a schedule of speakers and events, go to www.bgtantiquesandgardenshow.org. Also see the Inside/Out & About blog at www.gardening.bloginky.com for photos and additional information. Daily general admission is $10.