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FORSYTHIA — Golden Bells

Beautiful, hardy, leaf-losing shrubs which bear a profusion of golden-yellow flowers in March— April. They belong to the Olive family, Oleaceae. Forsythia was named in honor of William Forsyth, 1737-1804, who was the King's gardener at Kensington, near London, England. There are seven kinds or species of Forsythia—six of them from eastern Asia and one from southeastern Europe; there are also several varieties and hybrids.

Easily Grown Shrubs. The cultivation of Forsythia presents no problems; the shrubs are easily grown in ordinary well-tilled soil, but they are more vigorous and flower more freely in deeply cultivated and manured ground, so it is worth while adding peat, compost or manure to poor soil, and mulching the surface with decayed manure or compost in May.

Planting is best done in fall, but it may be carried out in spring.. The Forsythias flower best in an open, sunny position, but they will grow and flower in partial shade.

Prune after Flowering. Pruning should be done each year as soon as the flowers are over. As the flower buds for the next spring develop on short side shoots on the old branches and on the new shoots, the branches of the previous year's growth may be shortened by half or rather more when the bushes have filled the space allotted to them. One kind, which has long, trailing shoots, F. suspensa Sieboldii, is an attractive shrub for walls, fences, verandas, arches and pillars; in May, the side shoots should be shortened to within two or three buds of the base of the past year's growth when the area available for the branches is filled.

Propagation is by cuttings and layering, though the latter is not much practiced, as cuttings root so readily. Soft cuttings, 3 or 4 in. long, are made from the ends of young shoots in June and July and inserted in a propagating case in a greenhouse or in a cold frame. Half-ripe or semiwoody cuttings may be inserted out of doors under a bell jar or in a cold frame during August and September. Cuttings, 12-18 in. long, made from the mature growth of the year, may be inserted in sandy soil in a sheltered border outside during October and November.

The Chief Kinds. Forsythia intermedia spectabilis, a hybrid between F. suspensa Fortunei and F. viridissima, raised in Germany, is a strong-growing, much-branched shrub, 6-9 ft. high, which bears a profusion of large, golden-yellow flowers. Other varieties of the same parentage are densiflora and vitellina, both with deep yellow flowers, and primulina, with pale yellow flowers.

Some forms, or varieties, of the favorite Chinese shrub Forsythia suspensa are in cultivation. Variety Sieboldii, a shrub of loose growth which can be kept as a shapely bush by pruning, but is seen to the best advantage when trained on a wall, where it will reach a height of 20 ft. or more; or it may be trained on an arch, pillar or veranda. Variety Fortunei, is of stiffer growth, 6-10 ft. high, with golden-yellow flowers. F. atrocaulis is a variety of F. suspensa with dark-purple bark against which the pale lemon-yellow blossoms are very effective.

Forsythia ovata is a Korean shrub of dwarf, spreading habit, 3-4 ft. high, with pale, primrose-yellow flowers in March. Its variety koreana, from Korea, is an upright-growing shrub with bright yellow flowers. F. viridissima, first introduced from China in 1844, though not so floriferous and showy as the others, is of sturdy growth, 4-6 ft. high, and bears yellow flowers. A variety of F. viridissima named bronxensis, grows but two feet tall and is the only dwarf Forsythia that bears flowers. F. Giraldiana, from China, is a shrub of erect, slender growth bearing pale yellow flowers in February.

The Albanian Forsythia europaea is interesting as the only kind found wild in Europe. It is of upright growth, 4-6 ft. high, with yellow flowers.

In recent years considerable interest has developed in breeding new and improved varieties of Forsythia. As a result of this work, which has been carried on both in North America and Europe, a number of particularly fine kinds are now available and it is to be expected that others will be forthcoming. Among the best of the newcomers are Spring Glory, which produces large, pale yellow flowers in clusters along its stems in such profusion that the branches literally bend beneath the weight of them; Lynwood Gold, which has deep golden yellow flowers of exceptionally large size borne on erect branches; and Arnold Giant which is of erect growth and has large deep yellow flowers. Unlike most Forsythias, Arnold Giant does not propagate readily from hardwood cuttings taken in fall; softwood, leafy cuttings taken in summer and inserted in a cold frame or propagating greenhouse root readily. Yet another interesting Forsythia is Arnold Dwarf which does not exceed 2 ft. in height and has drooping branches which root into the ground where they touch it. Arnold Dwarf does not produce flowers but has some value as an unusual ground cover.

The branches of Forsythia, laden with yellow blooms, supply very useful material to cut for vase decoration in early spring. These shrubs, especially F. intermedia spectabilis, are suitable for cultivation in pots for greenhouse decoration; in a cool greenhouse they will bloom 5 or 6 weeks earlier than out of doors. Branches cut in winter and stood in water in a warm, light place indoors soon burst into bloom. Forsythia viridissima variety bronxensis forms an attractive standard-trained specimen if it is grafted high on a stem of one of the taller growing kinds.


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