Forsythia holds a special spot for many of us because it is the first shrub to flower in spring. That was especially true this year as the cold dragged on and we began to worry that spring had been pushed off the calendar altogether.
To be truly spectacular the shrub needs full sun, so our shady Beverly neighborhood is not the ideal environment for this plant. If you have a choice it is best to give forsythia the sunniest corner of your yard. But after months of bleak colors even partial shade will produce flowers that seem to create warmth all by themselves.
|This forsythia did not bloom at all for years thanks to being |
placed under a massive 5-trunk mulberry tree. Now that the
tree is down, flowers have re-appeared.
The biggest obstacle to a cascade of yellow blooms, however, is our pruning. Most of the older forsythia naturally grow 10 feet high and wide and are at their most beautiful when left to grow naturally. But that is a lot of real estate for one plant to occupy, and many city-dwellers end up pruning them into hedges. Forsythia do not object to this, but the branches you cut off this summer contain the buds for next spring's flowers. Next season you will wonder where the yellow went.
The best compromise you can make between size and flower is to prune your shrubs once and severely immediately after your display begins to fade. That way you can trim back your shrub before the buds for next year have a chance to develop.
Those not blessed with Grandma's shrubs are fortunate enough to have other choices. For a number of years our nurseries have been working to develop varieties that fit more easily into modern yards. Modern cultivars like 'Sunrise,' 'Bronxensis,' and 'Gold Tide' reach heights of only 6', 3' and 2' respectfully. At last we can have a manageable size and our flowers, too.