I have rarely planted a forsythia in the garden. It is not that I dislike them, though they are one-trick ponies. It is just that they are so common that I didn’t need to plant one – just look out of the window and I could see plenty down the road. Why use valuable space on a plant I can see any day everywhere else. But now, stuck out in the sticks, the spring yellow is profusely displayed by gorse (ulex) and I can’t see a forsythia. Ironically, and rather perversely, in my old UK garden I didn’t plant a forsythia but did have a large, double-flowered gorse!
So last year I did plant a forsythia. The most common, by miles, is ‘Lynwood’ and good as it is, I wanted something different. To be completely truthful, and I must be, I did plant a forsythia in the last garden but it is ‘Fiesta’, grown as much for the variegated leaves as the flowers. It is a neat and pretty little shrub with green-edged, yellow leaves and slightly red stems. But I have plenty of space now and do not really need a dual-purpose shrub – though it is a good thing. I need a bright splash of yellow. My favourite forsythia is ‘Courtalyn’ (Weekend) but I could not find that last yea so plumped for ‘Flojor’ (Minigold). This is a compact plant that only reaches about 1m high and wide so I am not taking too much of a risk of it making a dull mound in summer.
Some sites seem to think that the leaves are variegated but ,unless I am going more senile than I realise, it is not. Most images showing it as variegated illustrate it with ‘Fiesta’.
Forsythias are easy to grow and to propagate. They will grow in most soils and are hardy. The fact that you so rarely see a good one is that they are too often clipped over to make dumpy lumps. The poor plants make new growth that makes the neat mound rather fuzzy and the tidy gardener trims all these off in summer, removing all the flower buds. So it is far better to let forsythias have a less regular outline and give them a light trim immediately after flowering. If they are pruned hard they will make strong new growth but this will not flower well the following spring. But the sideshoots on these will flower profusely the following year. If a shrub is lightly pruned the moderate new growths will bloom the next spring.
If you want to take cuttings the easiest are hardwood cuttings taken in autumn but you can also take summer cuttings.
Minigold will surely be joined by another forsythia in the future but, for now, I am very pleased to have this little splash of yellow in the garden.