I had no idea how rare, and exceptional these humble little flowers are, both in the average garden and even the above- average florist shop. After discovering them in Middleburg, I looked all over for more, but only found Burpee's Catalog agreeing to mail me the tubers in warmer weather.
I am now trying to force those tubers on my kitchen window. (Forcing is the cunning art of tricking a plant into producing it's flowers early. In January, I clip about a dozen forsythia branches (the ones covered with buds) bring them indoors, and place them into a large vase of water). Within about two to three weeks, those branches will herald spring early, vivid sprays of yellow that gladdens the heart, for the indoor warmth persuades the branch it's mid-March instead of early February. Alas, my ranunculus tubers instructions didn't mention soaking them in water for three or four hours first, which I just read in an old gardening book. Two weeks on the windowsill, and just now are they're producing a slip of green on top, and a hint of root waterside.
|Elvira & Carol, Fox's Den Tavern, Middleburg|
|Front parlor, Middleburg florist shop, an old, converted house|
|Ranunculus buds in florist window|
Elvira is an expert gardener. She's the only person I know who can identify plants by their Latin names, and knows what those mean. She also has the finest garden I've seen outside a pay-to-see garden. Not surprisingly she knows all about which vase works best with what flower. Ranunculus flowers look best in a cylindrical vase that's about one-third the height of the flower stem, also, the flowers shouldn't be crammed in together, so you can appreciate their stem personality.
|Culture clash: Forced ranunculus on a dusting of winter white Photo: Molly Wallwork|