We know spring has arrived in northern climes when we see the cheery yellow blooms of the ubiquitous forsythias in April. Named after William Forsyth, one of the founders of the Royal Horticultural Society in the 18th century, forsythias are medium to large shrubs that produce four- petaled clusters of bell-shaped flowers in the axils of the stiff, rough branches. These Asian shrubs are very adaptable to poor soils and varying moisture, but the flower buds may be tender on older cultivars. Pruning is best done immediately after flowering, giving new growth time to form flower buds. Never shear forsythias into “green meatballs”, as their natural shapes are graceful enough.
Girald forsythia is a species from northwestern China. The plants in our collection came from the Morton Arboretum. The species is a shrub that grows to 9-12’ high. The leaves are quite different from the common border forsythias, up to 4” long, more narrow and finely toothed. The bell-shaped flowers grow in clusters of one to three in the leaf axils. The calyx at the base of each flower has a tinge of purple. In China it grows in open woodlands, rocky slopes and bottomlands. It requires more moisture than border forsythias and can take more shade.
Bedding or Border, Specimen Plant