|FORSYTHIA AND HEATHER|
Forsythia are a pretty good indicator that spring is here to stay. They are also good indicators of whether the spring is early, late or more or less on time. My records show the following bloom dates, all when the plants are in full bloom: 4/20/16; 4/16/15; 5/16/14; 5/12/13;3/23/12; 4/10/10.
The genus Forsythia has eleven species, ten native to eastern Asia, and one to southeastern Europe. The genus has bright yellow, bell shaped flowers that bloom prodigiously in early spring. It is in the olive family (Oleaceae), and has opposite leaves and branches. The common name and scientific genus name are the same, but the common name "forsythia" is not capitalized.
Brought to Europe from Chinese and Japanese gardens in the Eighteenth Century, the shrubs we are familiar with today are mostly derived from Forsythia x intermedia, a hybrid cross between the species suspensa and viridissima. There are many selections and back crosses of the original hybrid, and it is often identified only dubiously at most garden outlets, which is usually O.K. for general purposes.
The genus is named for John Forsyth, an Eighteenth Century British Royal Gardener and founder of the Royal Horticulture Society. It has become the commonest of landscape and garden shrubs, and though often overused and perhaps considered trite by some, its colorful early blooms and hardiness render it useful and probably necessary to most common landscapes.
Forsythia is of the easiest culture, but needs full sun to bloom well. The flowers bloom on older branches, including that of the prior year, so forsythias are best pruned right after they bloom. If pruned in the fall a lot of the next spring's flowers will be lost. If they get too large they may be drastically cut back, but then they will have few blooms the next spring and possibly for another year thereafter.
Blooming along with daffodils or heather, forsythias say "spring."