Sunday, May 1, 2011

Gardening: The Most Common Flowering Bush in Nova Scotia? Forsythia

Earth laughs in flowers. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

My mother's forsythia just a few days ago. Beautiful in full bloom.
I can't actually verify that title as fact, but it certainly looked that way recently when we took a drive into the country recently. Nearly every yard had one, and all were in full bloom, covered in their cheery, bright yellow flowers.

Close-up of an older variety's flowers.
Forsythia is one of the earliest spring bloomers in northern gardens that aren't a bulb. They put on a wonderful show outside, and branches are often gathered and brought inside where they are "forced" into bloom in March. It is like most magnolias in that the blossoms precede the leaves.

Forsythia, named for William Forsyth, is a member of the olive family, which I was surprised to learn. They commonly grow to heights between 3' to10', depending on the variety. Forsythia if often used as trimmed hedge. It looks very beautiful used in that manner.

Forsythia is native to the Far East, and is hardy to USDA Zone 5. The two most common varieties for garden cultivation are forsythia suspensa and forsythia vridissima. Since it was first "found" by Westerners in the 1700s, it has become a fixture in northern gardens on both sides of the Atlantic.

Forsythias grow best in full sun and well drained soil. Pruning should be done after the blossoms fade, as next year's buds are set on the previous years branches. First year branches produce no flowers. After it blooms forsythia still remains an attractive garden specimen throughout the summer.

Besides the common varieties, forsythia also come in weeping form as well as many other varieties. We saw a pink forsythia at a garden centre last year. That was a first for me!

Even after only one year this forsythia is brightening our garden.
Note the difference in "substance" of the blooms in comparison to above.


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