Marigolds. Yews. Forsythia. The commoners of the gardening world. Garden designers throughout the world shake a gloved finger at those who would dare insist on including these plants in a garden plan.
I, too, fell prey to the anti-forsythia bias prevalent in today’s gardening circles. I listened to the criticisms (some valid) that after bloom, forsythia is no more than some rangy, weedy plant that offers little in the way of foliage or form. I still enjoyed their bloom throughout town every spring, but never considered adding forsythia to my own garden.
But gardens are more than design plans. At their very best, gardens evoke emotions and memories in us. My earliest memories of plants include the forsythia hedges that would burst into bloom throughout my childhood neighborhood. Just like countless others, the forsythia bloom for me is a signal of the new season.
Last October, when a local garden center had a going out of business sale, I was carefully browsing through their remaining shrubs and ran across a plant with stunning fall color. I had no idea what it was until I reached down for the plant tag and it read — Forsythia ‘Sunrise’. I was so enamored with the foliage color that I decided it would be worth growing just for the show in autumn. I purchased two ‘Sunrise’ containers and planted them on the south side of our backyard deck.
Today, almost a week into spring but with temperatures hovering near freezing, Forsythia ‘Sunrise’ decided to ignore the chill and bloom. As I walked around the corner of the deck with a cold wind biting at my face, the bright yellow flowers of ‘Sunrise’ greeted me. It may no longer be a trendy choice in the plant world, but I’ll still cast my vote for a common plant that brings me back to those childhood memories of spring’s splendid arrival.