April 12th, 2012

Save the Forsythias!

nancy-80x80On behalf of forsythias everywhere, allow me to make one humble plea: Stop butchering us!

We love space. Lots and lots of space. A space 12 feet across would not be too large. When you visualize the ideal forsythia, you should think of a cascading shower of golden fireworks shooting towards the sky and arching elegantly back to earth. Not a cube. Not a sphere. Not a champagne-cocktail glass. We’re free spirits!

"Help! Someone has tried to make us into a cube! (But some of our branches are making a break for it!)"

"Help! Someone has tried to make me into a cube! (But some of my branches are making a break for it!)"

So when you’re planting a forsythia bush, choose a space we can be happy in. If you need a shrub that will be happy while hemmed into a 2-foot space between the foundation and the sidewalk, we’d rather you chose a boxwood or some other plant that doesn’t mind being manicured.

"Think of the flowers we could have if we hadn't been trimmed into this shape!"

"Think of the flowers we could have if we hadn't been trimmed into this shape!"

"We're feeling claustrophobic!"

"We're feeling claustrophobic!"

"You knew the electric meters were here when you planted us. So..."

"You knew the electric meters were here when you planted me. So..."

Once you’ve found our ideal spot, in full sun and well-drained soil, we won’t ask for much from you. Just a little compost now and then.

If we get a little out of bounds, here’s how to keep us looking pretty:

After we bloom in spring, give us a pruning. Remove any dead branches, and any that are rubbing against each other. Then, instead of shearing the tips of our branches all over, cut back some of the old growth to about 4 inches from the ground. If we need heavier pruning, this is the best time to do it, as we will recover quickly. Wait too long, and we won’t have time to produce the flower buds that will become next year’s blooms. Pruning us in the heat of summer will just make us stress out, and pruning in fall and winter may remove some of our buds, so we’ll give you fewer flowers in spring.

If we’ve become old and woody, you don’t need to give up on us. Cut us all the way back to the ground, and we will surprise you by rejuvenating ourselves within a few years. If you can’t bring yourself to do that, take down one-third of our branches to the ground every year for 3 years. We’ll soon look like an entirely new shrub!

"We love sun and space! Yay!"

"I love sun and space! Yay!"

"Give us land, lots of land, under starry skies above..."

"Give me land, lots of land, under starry skies above..."

Wishing you a golden spring 2013,

Forsythe A. Bush

As told to Nancy Rutman

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Comments

    Hi and thanks so much for your article!! My hubby and I bought a house in winter and imagine my surprise when spring rolled around and I had some gorgeous forsythias, lilacs, irises and some OMG mind blowing flowering tree that is B-E-A-UTIFUL!!! Anyway, back to the forsythias. :) I have 2 rather large bushes that flower so beautifully that I love them. We live halfway down a hill and I want to line the top of our hill with said forsythias, where an old fence used to be. :) What is the easiest way to “get them” there? It’s has the right sunlight and good draining soil (plus I have homemade compost too!!). I’ve found some websites that were no where nearly as helpful and current as yours, plus they lacked a sense of humor, which I appreciate :) They have just finished flowering and I am ready to move it move it-but not the whole bush. Can clippings work ? Please help if you can. I’d TRULY appreciate it. Plus, a path of gold will make my little slice of red roofed heaven look fabulous!!!

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