It’s one of the earliest of spring-flowering shrubs and trees, a plant which seems to know that to have an effect at this time of year, it needs to have presence.
So, a great explosion of vivid yellow puts it even above the daffodil. And then it’s all over. A couple of weeks of stupendous colour – and then the shrub becomes a lump of green anonymity, a fading memory as spring takes a hold.
But while it lasts, forsythia is a revelation – and a very easy-to-grow revelation. It’s a plant which seems to be able to tolerate any soil and situation. Just pull off a stem in summer or autumn, plunge it into the ground and leave it. Within weeks, it will have taken root, and next spring it will be ready to flower.
Forsythia is not a stately shrub; it lounges and sprawls, rapidly spreading to lean upon its neighbours. But it can handle the effects of pruning and appears to hold no grudge to the gardener trying to keep it in shape.
Varieties gaining in popularity include ‘Fiesta’ which is quite compact for a forsythia and which rarely manages to get above 3ft in height. The golden flowers are followed by bright green foliage marked with cream and gold.
‘Golden Cluster’ is even smaller – a dwarf of a forsythia but still packed with that explosion of spring colour. It is made for small gardens, as is ‘Golden Nugget’.