While walking on my block last week, I noticed some cut branches piled at the curb.
This not unusual.
In our city, yard waste is picked up from the street with a mechanical scoop, something like a forklift, but with a spoon instead of a fork. The spoonlift deposits the leaves, sticks, and grass clippings into a larger second vehicle. Some cities have bins and only one machine, which seems more efficient from my point of view, but I will admit that the spoonlift is fun to watch.
These particular branches caught my attention because they had buds on them.
I worked at a florist shop for several years, where we sometimes used branches in our arrangements. Cuts of bright yellow Forsythia and flexible, curly willow would blossom or sprout leaves when left in water, adding structure and a touch of Spring to any arrangement.
I had found a free centerpiece, lying in the street! It was my lucky day.
I had just passed by an hour before, and the branches had not been there, so I knew they were fresh. I took the smaller branches home and cut them for use in a vase. The remaining branches were soon collected from the street, and I counted the blessing of my good timing in finding some to take home before they were scooped away.
I have had the pleasure of seeing the branches bloom and sprout this week, and would like to share my pleasure with you.
The oranges came from our dwarf orange tree. Our recent weeks of frost have made the fruit bitter, but they still look good in a bowl.
The buds started white, turned pink, and then whitened again as the flowers opened. I suspect they are apple blossoms, or maybe pear.
Some people do not have the patience to wait for flowers to open slowly. At the florist shop, we sometimes sent out budded Cymbidium orchid plants, staked with willow branches, tied with a ribbon and nestled in moss.
We received calls from irate gift senders, demanding to know why their money had paid for only “sticks in a pot”.
We might try in vain to explain that the orchid plant would hold its elegant blooms for three months, and that it would only take the flowers a few days to open, but the explanation usually didn’t satisfy them…even when we told them the plant was worth more than they had paid and they had gotten a deal.
Some customers would rather give older flowers, those that have already reached their peak and will soon be past it. They want instant (short-lived) gratification.
I have tried to educate friends and family about choosing flowers with an expectation of their future potential.
A bundle of small, green, stubby tulips will not remain so. It will grow and change with each day, with stems lengthening, buds changing color, expanding, and twisting toward the nearest light source.
This process, to me, is infinitely more interesting than a bundle of fully colored, fully open tulips that will fade and drop their petals in a day or two.
I appreciate the surprise of not knowing for certain what the color of the blooms will be.
The stages of growth in a flower are like the stages of growth in a child. I am not attached to a single stage; I find them all intriguing.
The next time you purchase flowers, let them be a little bit green, a little bit tight.
When you look at the trees or shrubs in your yard, keep in mind that most clippings will look good in a vase, or even a jelly jar.
Any Fall leaves, Spring growth, flowering branches, and even dry twigs can be beautiful — especially mixed together in varied textures and colors.
And you can’t beat the price: free.