Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Seeing Yellow

This small cup Daffodil opened first on Forsythia Hill.
It's a blaze of yellow on Forsythia Hill this time of year.  The yellow Crocus arrived first then secondly my Grandmother's lovely antique large cup Daffodil.  Now the absolutely shocking yellow Forsythia is in clear view out every window in my house!  Hence the name, Forsythia Hill.  I just transplanted stray 10 Forsythia shrubs yesterday and today I spotted another possible transplant location!  We have those hideous electrical boxes on entry up our driveway.  I've never quite decided how to mask them.  I have some stray Althea shrubs that need a new home.  I think a few of them along with some Forsythia might make a good screen.  I was told by the electrical man that as long as I planted to the side and front I would not interfere with the box.

Forsythia was named after William Forsyth, who started the Royal Horticultural Society of Great Britain.  A member of the olive family, it was discovered growing in China in 1842 by Scottish Botanist, Robert Fortune when he was sent there to bring back plants by the Society.  Another species of Forsythia had already been growing in Europe since 1833 but was labeled as a Lilac.

The way you prune Forsythia - YOU DON'T
Often mentioned as a hiding spot for the dancing Fairy or even a sly Fox (in my yard) the Forsythia hedge grows with abandon having few limits.  The tiny Forsythia fruit from the Weeping Forsythia suspensa was recorded as being used in China beginning in 100 A.D. as a medicinal along with Lonicera to cure heat related diseases and remove toxins (fever, goiter, sores, abscesses, swollen lymph glands, flus, etc). 

Personally, Forsythia reminds me of the past and I always envision it as situated, overgrown, beside an old farm house in a field.  On Forsythia Hill it welcomes in Spring and cheers me to view it out every window.  I've not yet discovered a Fairy but as a young girl, I looked and looked for them under the old Forsythia shrub. 

The main Spring activity around our back Forsythia hedge is the Mockingbird territory wars. Often three or more Mockingbirds zooming around and around in and out and over the Forsythia hedge - battling for the supreme nesting spot.  I'm not sure if the same bird wins each year but it appears the returning bird puts up a most ferocious fight.  One evening I was walking my dog through the yard when a beautiful Red Fox popped out from under the Forsythia shrub.  It was an incredible sight but I felt as if he was sniffing around for my Hen House!  A two door night lockup system will hopefully keep them safe.

A pruned yellow neon highlighter line of Forsythia in a field - UCK
Forsythia certainly provides cover for wildlife and nesting for the birds.  It's a valuable shrub with a long history.  Can there be too much Forsythia planted?  Well yes, it can look horrible when attempts are made to control it by pruning.  I shudder when I see lollipop Forsythia or even worse is the manicured short clipped boxed version.  If you grow Forsythia, plant it in a spot when it can naturally roam and spread without much attention.  Up against the house is asking for trouble, or next to almost anything is a bad idea and planting just one bush usually looks kinda weird (a neon glob of yellow).  An expansive hedge is best and it will form this all on its own given time.  Annually, I dig up the roaming sprouts each year and cut back a few of the really tall spikes but not much else is required.  Once you have Forsythia, you will always have it!


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