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An Old-Fashioned Spring Shrub

Fosythia, old-fashioned shrubs, heirloom shrubsThe yellow bells of Forsythia ring in each new spring. Their blooms chase away the winter season with cheerful color and old-fashioned charm. They have claimed a spot in the home garden, but are not as fitting in public and large commercial landscapes.

Long Forsythia stems make beautiful, early spring arrangements. The brief, yellow blooms in early March herald the beginning of spring. It’s nice to have at least one Forsythia in the landscape to mark the beginning of spring to let you know it is time to put down pre-emergent herbicide on the lawn. There are pictures taken of Forsythia planted in huge numbers along fence lines, all in bloom. That may happen rarely, on a very good year, but will not happen for often. The early bloom is often killed back by frost. For a very brief moment each year, Forsythias reign supreme.

The problems associated with Forsythia should discourage most gardeners, but the shrubs are cheap to produce and popular with sellers. Forsythias sucker and can form invasive colonies. When they take over an area, they barely flower at all. Huge colonies of Forsythia can form in neglected back yards of old homesteads, where you can count the number of blooms on one hand. The old-fashioned Forsythia is not suited to public landscape sites. I have seen Forsythia attempted as mass plantings on highway interchange projects. It did not perform as the optimistic designers hope it might. It is a mistake for large-scale public plantings, and quickly declines and dies.

Forsythias bloom on old wood, so shearing them in late fall or winter will remove all the flowers before they have a chance to bloom. Even so, it attracts indiscriminate pruning. The form is messy, with no direction to the arching stems, and they are often the victim of brutalization with electric shears. No problem! There are plenty more where they came from.