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.
Forsythia ‘Northern Gold’ is a modern hybrid selected for reliable bud hardiness to -30 degrees F. It has a rounded shape with a maximum height of about 8 feet. This Canadian cultivar is a hybrid of Forsythia x intermedia and Forsythia ovata.