Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today

 
 

NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.

 
 
 
 

NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.

 
 
 
 

New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.

 
 
 
 

Plant Profiles

Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Gold-leaved Forsythia in Flower

 

So many bright flowers. So many strong opinions. Forsythia: the shrub so many love, so many hate.

 

 

 forsythia-gold-leaf-flowers-050913-640

 

What's to love? The reliability. That deer don't eat it. The bright color when the landscape is still, overall, soaked in the drear of Winter.

 

What's to hate? The bright color when the landscape is, overall, still soaked with the drear of Winter. Seeing that same color on every block. The haystack habit. The boring green foliage.

 

And yet, I grow seven kinds of forsythia. I celebrate it—but not, mainly, for the flowers. Is it because there are too many of them, too densely arrayed? (A bush of only modest size might have a thousand of them.) Nope: Weeping cherries are as guilty, but I don't complain.

 

To my astonishment, it isn't even the color. Like 'King Alfred' daffs, forsythia flowers shout "Yeah, we are yellow. You got a problem with that?" Indeed, it's a straightforward hue, without apology or hesitation. Or, well, consideration. Said less kindly, a forsythia in full-on flower usually looks juvenile, tacky, suburban, and low-class. Tough: There's forsythia in five different gardens at my house.

 

At least the shrub proves that the gods have a sense of humor: Can you think of a forsythia that is not painfully near a pink magnolia, crab, or weeping cherry? Except in your gardens and mine, of course.

 

I do, however, regret that the flowers are so single-minded in their coloring. The tiny lines of tan-orange in the cup aren't appreciable without magnification, and are ho-hum with it. And the pollen is as yellow as the petals.

 

 

forsythia-gold-leaf-flower-cup-050913-640

 

 

The flowers don't give a clue as to what other colors might be congenial, let alone courageous. Blue? Red? Burgundy? Orange? White? As far as forsythia is concerned, you're on your own in attempting to include it in your garden's coloristic conversations.

 

 

All true—and yet I'm so deeply into forsythia you could call me a forsythia evangelist. (Or perhaps just an addict.) That the flowers are bright enough to warrant sun glasses isn't, in itself, a disaster. It's an opportunity for creativity. That millions of other people site millions of forsythia disastrously (at least to the eyes of we sensitive types) doesn't mean the shrub's to blame. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our shrubs—I mean our stars—but in ourselves.

 

 

Regardless of all that forsythia, early Spring is still starved for color. As sensitive creatives, it's as much our responsibility to champion alternatives to forsythia as to give this unavoidable and in-your-face shrub congenial contexts. Then we can change our perception of it from brash and common to kick-ass and cool. We can work a horticultural miracle: Make us glad that, after having seen dozens of forsythias already that morning—and countless thousands of them over a lifetime—we are seeing yet another.

 

 

Even the boring foliage and overgrown haystack proclivities are redeemable: All the forsythias I'm wild about have additional gifts that keep on giving after the shrubs are done flowering. Foliage that's variegated or, as with the cultivar here, solid gold.

 

 

forsythia-gold-leaf-foliage-050913-640

 

 

Or stems that are contrastingly colorful when young. Or a dwarf habit—or an unusually willowy one that lends itself to cascades and espaliers. I'll be profiling all of these multitasking forsythias in the seasons to come. Meanwhile, the links below provide plenty of suggestions to help Forsythia x intermedia 'Gold Leaf' party with style—and, therefore, make it and you both stars.

 

Here's how to grow gold-leaved forsythia.

 

Here's a look at gold-leaved forsythia when used as a bouquet.

 
 
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