When it comes to Nature, I am beginning to feel a little impatient. Our garden is fabulous for Spring blossom: the first to bloom is a large magnolia tree, which is followed by an ornamental cherry and a purple lilac. By the end of last March, the magnolia was coming to the end of its short but glorious season of blossom. Here we are, already in April and its buds show no sign of opening. Having done a little reading up on the subject, I have decided to have a go at bringing some magnolia buds inside and forcing them, in the hope that they will bloom sooner than the tree outside. I was reticent about the title ‘forcing magnolia’; I was aiming for something more along the lines of gentle encouragement. However, as the technique involves bashing the stems with a hammer and then submerging the buds in a lukewarm bath, I have to concede that forcing is probably an appropriate word for it!
Whether or not the branches will respond remains to be seen, but in the meantime, there is a strange beauty in their twisted shapes and soft grey buds.