Sunday, March 30, 2014


Weather: High winds keep blowing Russian thistles into the yard; last rain 3/16/14.

The seasons of drought have taken their toll on pines and other evergreens. The Douglas spruce in the village died this winter. Elsewhere, there are dead trees waiting to be taken down.

What’s blooming in the area: Flowering quince, forsythia, daffodils.

I never know if my neighbors’ pink and white flowered trees are ornamental crabs or fruit bearing apricots and peaches. Right now, when all are blooming, I guess the first if the tree is solitary, the second if there are at least two. Even so, many grow only one apricot, because there are so many they needn’t worry about a pollinator.

Bradford and Callery pears are too narrow to be mistaken for crab apples or apricots, but I have not idea which is which when I’m driving by.

Beyond the walls and fences: Bright green Siberian elms, alfilerillo, western stickseed, purple and tansy mustards, dandelions.

In my yard: Choke cherries leafing, tansy coming up, lilac leaves emerging.

Animal sightings: Small birds making more noise. Insect with long narrow black body, horizontally striped with chartreuse on the Bradford pear flower.

Weekly update: It takes time to recover from a catastrophe. The winter of 2010 was hard on forsythia. It stayed wet late, so shrubs hadn’t hardened properly when temperatures fell down to 6 after a snow in late December. What had been the rambling shrub above produced only a few flowering stems.

The next year was the year of the power outage when temperatures were below zero in February. The next two years the warming sun lured out flowers, then blasted them with cold temperatures

I didn’t do much the first two years. I thought nature was wiser than I. After all, our current form of Forsythia Intermedia began as an 1878 seedling in a botanical park in Göttingen that was hardier than its Chinese parents.

I did reroute hoses to send more water to its roots in late summer when it’s forming the leaf and flower buds that open the following spring. However, the surrounding Siberian peas also benefitted. They got so tall, the shrub was forced to lunge for the sun.

This year, it’s almost back to normal.

Forsythia is not a tree with a single trunk.

It is more like a copse with many stems rising from the roots.

When one stem dies, others can still produce the necessary chlorophyll. It didn’t matter that I didn’t get around to removing dead wood until last summer. People with shaped hedges faced greater challenges.

I don’t care where a new stem rises. When a hedge is shaped, the new growth has to come within the form, and that may take longer to happen.

When the shrubs are growing with evergreens or in mixed borders, the affects are less obvious.

Like my Siberian peas, other shrubs may fill an opening.

If the primary purpose of the hedge is to provide a natural barrier, the flowering may not even matter. Dead wood is as effective as live.

But, of course, the reason for using forsythia, rather than cropping elms or trees of heaven, is the yellow can be magnificent when it filters the sun.

1. Area forsythia with cottonwoods and weeping willows, on a ditch, 26 March 2014.

2-5. My forsythia in 2007, 2010, 2012 and this year.

6. Area forsythia trained to tree shape, with the stems tied together; 26 March 2014.

7. Base of my forsythia, 28 March 2014.

8-9. Area hedge, on a ditch, 2008 and this year.

10-11. Area hedge with evergreens, on a buried ditch, 2009 and this year.

12. Area hedge, on a ditch, 26 March 2014.

13. My forsythia, 28 March 2014.

14. Local forsythia with cottonwoods and globe willows, near a river, 26 March 2014.

1 comment:

Vicki said...

My forsythia this year is absolutely full and brillant. Love the spring color.