Running through a part of the city, and not very far from our home, is an old rail line that has ben converted to a paved walking and biking trail. Sometime around the middle of December the city was doing some trail maintenance, cutting back trees and bushes that they deemed were growing too close to the trail. In one of the sections closest to our home a thicket of native red osier dogwood had grown along the path, these were cut back rather drastically.

One morning just before Christmas I took the dogs for a walk along the path and picked up several of the beautiful glossy red branches that had been cut. I brought them home, trimmed them down to a manageable size, and put them into an old glass wine carafe as decoration for the season.

The ends that had been trimmed off I put into a mason jar in the kitchen, then added a bit of water. I am not entirely sure why I added that water. Maybe just to see what would happen. I had tried to root forsythia in water before, without much luck, so I don’t think that I was actively trying to root anything. At least I don’t remember that being my plan.

The little cut ends were pretty in the kitchen, an they stayed there, not doing much of anything for several weeks.

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Then one day I spotted a bit of bright green growing from a stem, and before very long all of the branches had sprouted leaves and roots were starting to grow in the water. How exciting. Unfortunately, it was January. Spring wasn’t even on the horizon, let alone weather warm enough to think about planting anything.

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I let them grow a little further in water, and then one morning I decided it was time to pot the little twigs up. Perhaps a little too soon for some, as out of 7 rooting twigs, 2 didn’t do so well. The leaves started to droop and shrivel, and although I suspect that given a bit of time they may have perked up again, I wasn’t in a waiting mood (seeing as it was the end of January anyway, I had 5 others, and none of this was intended in the first place…), so out the 2 failing twigs went in the compost, the next garbage day. The 5 remaining twigs are, to various degrees, doing well. Two are positively thriving, and the other 3 are hanging on.

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Of course, the question is, will they survive until April or May? I have just the place for them as an informal hedge at the side of our back garden. Red osier dogwood is native to this area, so I am pleased to have it in the back yard. Granted, it will take some time for the twigs to resemble anything like a hedge, but after all, they were free, so no reason to complain.

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