Forsythia (Golden Bell Bush)
Common name: Golden bell bush
Spring would not be the same without the very popular and colourful forsythia which produces masses of blooms on leafless branches. Easily grown, it has much to offer after the long dreary winter months.
Popular species and varieties
There are several species of these colourful shrubs, ranging from those of dwarf habit which grow to around 60cm (24in), to the taller varieties reaching 4m (12ft) or more. Flower colour varies from light primrose to rich golden yellow. Among the best known are the ones listed under Forsythia x intermedia. Well to the fore is ‘Lynwood’ (AGM) with its rich yellow blooms. Two others are ‘Arnold Grant’, not so free-flowering, but with larger, pendant blooms, and ‘Spectabilis’, an old favourite, with narrow, twisted golden-yellow petals.
Forsythia suspensa (AGM) is an arching shrub with mid-green leaves. The clusters of bell-shaped blooms appear in early spring. This is a good subject to train up a wall. There are some varieties with dark stems — two are ‘Nyman’s’ with reddish-purple stems and Forsythia suspensa atrocaulis, almost black.
The dwarf forsythias are good early flowering shrubs for the front of a border or large rock garden. Forsythia viridissima ‘Bronxensis’ grows to just 30cm (12in), and has yellowin early spring.
Soil type Most good, moist, well-drained garden soils.
Planting In either the autumn or spring. Choose a sunny or lightly shaded spot
Maintenance Prune forsythias immediately after flowering. Cut back about one-third of the oldest branches that have flowered.
Propagation Cuttings root very successfully. Semi-ripe cuttings with a heel should be taken in late summer, or opt instead for softwood cuttings in late spring.
Pests and diseases Normally no problems, although birds can sometimes pull off flower buds.