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forsythia wall

Forsythia are growing over the block wall at the base of Bridge Road next to the Carriage Trail.

You can’t miss the yellow bolts of color scattered along the landscape. The bright rays of sunshine are everywhere — and I like it. It’s springtime, and the forsythia is blooming.

The color is energetic. Like it is shouting to the universe that a long, hard winter is ending, and it is time to rejoice with springtime.

Here’s a fun fact, forsythia is related to the olive tree. It’s a deciduous tree, meaning it drops its leaves in the autumn season (get it, leaves fall in the fall). Growing habits depend on the variety.

My favorite use of this brilliant shrub is as a hedge. This fast-growing border surrounds a backyard that I visit often. It is tall and full and provides the perfect backdrop for the garden beds planted in front. The forsythias will come into bloom first and fade to green as other plants grow and bloom through the summer.

Other varieties are single shrubs that grow tall, 6 to 10 feet, and do not arch or spread. My sister has this bush in her side yard. It provides a pretty backdrop for spring photos.

Because of the early flowers, forsythia blooms attract bees and other pollinators. Take a close look, and you will notice the flowers form before the leaves, making the yellow color even more brilliant because it is not hidden among green.

Before you plant forsythias:

n Decide what shape you need and want for your space.

n Give them six hours of sun, and you will be rewarded with full color blooms.

n Do your research and select the variety that meets your needs. If you have a hillside, you may want to choose plants that will “weep” or cascade downward. They can look like a waterfall of gold in the springtime.

To me, the original forsythia is my favorite, high and arching, growing long branches that bend over to the ground. Left untrimmed, these touchpoints will root and form new plants.

Forsythia is a fast-growing shrub. Regular maintenance is required to control the size and shape. The time to prune is after the bloom has faded. The same is true for most spring-blooming bushes. Next year’s buds form on this year’s branches, so pruning late in the season could eliminate flowers in the spring.

If you have seen forsythias and honeysuckles this year and thought they had a little extra somethin’ somethin’ with the flowers, you are not alone. Several of my friends have made the same observation. This is the year of gorgeous spring blooms.

Could it be that this winter has been a bit cooler than others? Let me explain our theory. If the weather warms too early in the year and the bushes break bud early, chances are they will be nipped by frost when the temps return to the average winter expectancy. This year, except for a few crazy warm days, the spring has been cool, giving the plant time to store energy and form buds to break at their expected times.

Bottom line, the extra warm winter days confuse the plants and their bloom time. This year it all made sense to the plants, and we are reaping the benefits with stellar spring flowers and blooms.

I love that nature gives us vibrant blooms, full moons and ruby red sunsets when we need them the most. Spring is here, and nature is showing off, reminding us the season brings new life and color into our garden and our world.

Jane Powell is a longtime West Virginia Extension Service Master Gardener through the Kanawha County chapter and has a garden with sunny spots and shady beds where she grows perennials, vegetables and herbs. She is also the author of “Gardening in Pearls,” a blog that combines her love of gardens, fashion and design. By day, Jane is the communications director for a community foundation and a volunteer with several nonprofits in the community. Find her blog at http://gardeninginpearls.com/. Reach Jane at janeellenpowell@aol.com.

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