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Spring In The Hamptons: Bundling Branches

Originally Posted: March 27, 2013

Mar Jennings

Spring is the perfect time to start utilizing simple arrangements from your garden. (Photo: www.marjennings.com)

There is no better, more relaxing time to be in the Hamptons than spring. As owners return to their summer homes and restaurants begin to re-open for the season we diehards take in the last couple of months of calmness to enjoy the beautiful spring weather and the endless parking spaces available. Soon the Hampton Jitney busses will jockey for space on Route 27 with the cars filled with weekend warriors. But for now we can pause and take in the pleasure of the perfectly casual days of spring as if they are the calm before the storm.

One stroll down any of the shopping stretches from Hampton Bays to Montauk, and you'll find shops enticing and tempting you with spring-themed décor—from floral arrangements to pastel fashions. If you're like me you, too, feel that now is the time to bring that same look into our homes.

So grab your garden clippers and let's head outside to use the garden as a wonderful resource for bringing Mother Nature in now that Old Man Winter is out.

Fresh cut flowers brighten a home. (Photo: www.marjennings.com)

Truth be told, early spring is the perfect time to bring in some good-sized dramatic flowering branches from the garden. Forced branches make great simple arrangements that are also long lasting. I like to place one large Japanese crabapple branch in a heavily weighted tall vase on my mantle in front of the mirror. The buds turn into pink flowers and continue to open for a couple of weeks, and the effect is spectacular.

I also trim a huge armful of forsythia to fill the largest vase I have. I like to place this in my front bay window for all to enjoy, inside or out.

Some other great choices for flowering branches that lend themselves to an early spring display are the following:

SHRUBS: Forsythia, witch hazel, rhododendron, flowering quince and pussy willow.

TREES: Bradford pear, Japanese crab apple, cherry, pear, and dogwood.

The secret to a long display indoors is to cut your branches just before the larger buds are almost ready to begin opening. Cut large branches with plenty of buds; best results are obtained by cutting the branch on the bias. Place the branches in 3 to 4 inches of warmish water and add floral preservative.

Make sure you change the water every couple of days, and place your arrangement in a cool spot indoors out of the sun. Once blooming begins, move them to a brighter spot, but not direct drying sun. Many branches will also produce leaves adding another layer to the beauty.

I remember seeing a wonderful forced branch arrangement at Almond Restaurant in Bridgehampton one year, and since then I duplicate that same look in my home every spring. These bundles of beauty where closer than I thought—in my own backyard!

Feeing inspired this year? Pick up a copy of my best selling book: "Life On Mar's, A Four Season Garden", at your local BookHampton book store at the new special price of $19.95. I love a traditional book store that offers us locals great service and resources. BookHampton is packed with many wonderful books, but of course mine offers seasonal recipes and cocktails, too. Perfect for inspired entertaining in the Hamptons this summer.

And there you have it.

Mar is an Emmy Nominated TV Host, Lifestyle Expert and best-selling author of "Life On Mar's, A Four Season Garden," that chronicles the evolution of his Westport, Connecticut garden. www.marjennings.com MarJennings

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