Plants - Trees and Shrubs

Forsythias: One of the first signs of spring

Stunning showers of golden blooms are the reward for the gardener who favours this low-maintenance beauty

Blossom buddies
Underplant forsythias with these flowers that bloom at the same time:

  • 'Wanda' primrose (Primula 'Wanda'), zone 3 
  • Snow crocus hybrids (Crocus chrysanthus hybrids), zone 3
  • 'Blue lady' Hellebore (Helleborus x hybridus 'Blue lady'), zone 4

Forsythia varieties

(Forsythia x intermedia ‘Fiesta’)
Zone 5
Height x width: 1.5 x 2 m   
Compact and densely branched growth habit; golden yellow flowers; rich green leaves with variegated cream-and-gold centres; young stems have a reddish hue. Retains variegation well; bred in New Zealand.

Gold Tide
(F. x i. ‘Courtasol’)
Zone 5   

Height x width:
50 cm x 1 m   
Spreading, dwarf growth habit; covered in lemon-yellow flowers; moss-green foliage. Useful as a groundcover; intolerant of dry soils; bred in Europe.

(F. x i. ‘Lynwood’ syn. ‘Lynwood Gold’)
Zone 5   
Height x width: 2 x 2 m   
Upright growth habit; brilliant yellow flowers are evenly distributed along the length of the stems; medium green foliage. A branch sport (natural mutation) of F. x i. ‘Spectabilis’, it was discovered in Northern Ireland in the early 1930s.

Showy border
(F. x i. ‘Spectabilis’)
Zone 5   
Height x width: 2.5 x 2.5 m
Vigorous, upright growth habit; bright yellow flowers up to 3.5 cm across; medium green foliage. The standard and most widely planted cultivar; bred by Späth Nurseries of Germany; introduced in 1906.

(F. ovata ‘Meadowlark’)
Zone 3   
Height x width: 2.5 x 2 m
Semi-arching growth habit; profusion of bright yellow flowers; dark green foliage. The most flower bud hardy variety (to –37°C); it was introduced by North and South Dakota state universities and the Arnold Arboretum.

‘Northern Gold’
(F. o. ‘Northern Gold’)
Zone 3
Height x width: 2 x 1.5 m
Upright growth habit; large, golden yellow flowers; dark green foliage; grey bark with yellow streaks. Flower bud hardy to –34°C; introduced by Agriculture Canada.

(F. o. ‘Ottawa’)
Zone 4
Height x width: 1.5 x 1.5 m
Compact, tidy growth habit; vigorous, with masses of grapefruit-yellow flowers; dark green foliage. Flower bud hardy to –32°C; blooms 10 to 14 days earlier than other forsythias; raised at the Dominion Arboretum, Ottawa.


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