Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Love it or Hate It? (Number 3): Invite to the Forsythia Ball?

Love It or Hate It? The Forsythia Ball

I found many examples of this in a short walk around the corner today- a example of the tidily, geometrically pruned shrub, in this case, forsythias (I found many more examples of highly pruned versions versus the natural form). What do you think: love it or hate it?

My response? I feel sorry for the poor plant. The true beauty of these early spring flowering shrubs is when they are left alone, with minor pruning to reinvigorate the plant (a few stems removed at ground level, dead or broken branches removed) so that the lovely arching branches form, covered with flowers (no matter how brief the bloom time, the forsythia is a welcome early spring flower). Here is an example that is a bit better, in a better setting- the forsythia is planted somewhere it will not get in the way, and the branches allowed to arch over a fence:

I completely understand why a homeowner would severely prune a shrub. You buy a plant that is little more than a stick with roots in a pot and have difficulty imagining its final size. I have done this with a few passalong plants, for example bridal wreathe spirea. Forsythia can grow to be 10 feet tall and very wide around, and it is hard to keep it in a tightly constrained area and have it still look good- this is why people resort to pruning it into balls, boxes or rectangles. The moral- gardener, know thy plants! Do some research, and learn what the final size of a plant will be before you plant it. And don't plant it if you don't have the right site requirements for it- look for another, more suitable plant instead. You may end up doing what I have had to do in the past- fully removing a plant that is in the wrong space, which is a waste of time, money and energy! [Side note: in a tiny, postage stamp garden, it may work to severely prune some shrubs-I'll see if I can find examples this next week]
Happy gardening!

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