Thursday, March 26, 2009


Our backyard makes a steep decline to the creek bed and the right side is lined with Forsythia. It started opening last weekend and is in full bloom now. In Michael Dirr’s book “Manual of Woody Landscape Plants”, Dirr describes the plant as giving “the appearance the roots were stuck in an electric socket”. He thinks it is “over rated”. I think, and I’m nowhere near the expert he is, that it has a whimsical butterfly effect in the spring garden. I love the bright yellow that lasts for two to three weeks, usually in March and April. Forsythia bloom also is used to signal it is time to put down pre-emergent on the lawn.

Forsythia is a wonderful hedge if you have room to let it take on its natural form of billowing branches. This woody ornamental can grow as much as four feet a year so give it lots of room. There are new varieties that will fit more compact gardens so ask your local nursery. It is usually used in mass plantings and bank plantings and occasionally as a specimen plant such as our grandmother’s back yard. The branches arching to the ground made it a wonderful hideout. Give it lots of room and avoid planting it under a low window, next to steps or too close to your driveway. It can be beautiful cascading over a wall.

I’m mentioning this plant because its one of those plants people think they need to constantly be trimming. I want everyone to think about the ‘right plant in the right place’ rule and enjoy it for what it is. If you insist on pruning, the best time is right after it blooms. Remember it only blooms on old branches, so cut those and leave the new branches for next years bloom. If you are pruning at the correct time the plant tells you which branches to cut—ahhh, Mother Nature.

I cut some branches and am rooting them to fill in along the border. The branches make a striking display—almost oriental in feel and soon I’ll have some more shrubs. If you cut them in January and place them in warm water the bloom will be forced open. One problem we have here (zone 5) with Forsythia is the sudden drop in temperature this time of year. A late hard freeze will turn the bloom to a slimy brown.

1 comment:

  1. Mom, what are you doing up at 2:22am? A true blogger! :)