Bang! – the Forsythia has exploded – Spring is here!

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 Can there be a more maligned shrub than poor old Forsythia?  Unappreciated to the point of derision and if it does feature in a garden it is usually really badly pruned.  Yet it’s annual explosion of ‘yellower than yellow’ blossom is surely one of the truest signs of the arrival of Spring.

I’ll admit it – I used to deride Forsythia as well.  That was until I inherited one and now, another property down the line, we are onto our second.  Now I’ve learned to love it and I look forward to it’s blossoming as a sign that Winter is finally over.  The trick, (as with a lot of deciduous flowering shrubs), is to learn how to prune it so as to let it express it’s natural form.  If pruned properly Forsythia has a sort of natural arching grace, slightly scruffy I’ll grant you, but those arching sprays of blossom, (if not ruinously cut into that classic ‘bog brush’ look!), can add real theatre at this time of year.  (They also look great in a tall vase as a simple, elegant, ‘ikebana’ flower arrangement.)

If it starts to outlive it’s space then try to cut out a few stems in their entirety right back to the base rather than just trimming it back overall.  It can need annual treatment, (once it has finished flowering), but keeping it in check this way will give it a far better look and mean that you’ll get complete sprays of flowers to appreciate each year.  Try and treat it as an individual shrub – if it’s been planted as a hedge then consider removing it altogether; there are many far more suitable plants for hedges.  If you have inherited an out of control ‘monster’, like we did in our current home, then it may take a few years to achieve a good shape but it is worth all the effort with loppers and secateurs – indulge your creative side!  (For creative people with both a Forsythia and young children, try weaving a few flowering stems into Spring crowns/coronets for them to wear; the more ambitious could even make a Spring wreath for the front door.)

So take a second look at a plant that is all too often taken for granted and really does deserves to be far more appreciated.

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