Forsythia in bloom…

Plenty of people I know look down their noses at forsythia. I admit that I once dug up and discarded a lovely forsythia shrub because I was influenced by negative opinion from a more experienced gardener. But I’m more confident now and I plant what makes me smile and forsythia really makes me smile. It brings back memories of my childhood, the full, naturally arching boughs that invited playtime beneath the branches.  It’s just beginning to bloom in this yard and although someone has pruned it into a sad light bulb shape, those tiny yellow blooms still capture the magic of spring.

Spring is around the corner… I hope.

While I was chopping ice off the walkway last week, a neighbor out for a stroll stopped to chat. The conversation turned to gardening. “Do you like bulbs?” she asked.  Hailing from the area of Brent and Beckys Bulbs in Ware Neck, VA, naturally I said yes. “Well, they’re planted all over this lawn,” she added. I looked around. I know they’re up and blooming in Virginia but not a one had broken through the ground here.

After she left, I tried to visualize a lawn full of blooms. That is difficult to do. But just trying to visualize tulips made me reflect on our small group that traveled with Brent and Becky to Holland in the spring of 2010 and our visit to the dazzling gardens of Keukenhof near Amsterdam. Oh, how much fun it would be if this lawn lit up with a rainbow of colors like we saw in Holland.

I posted some photos from that 2010 trip while traveling, but being in a bulb mood now, I’m posting a few more pictures today.

I’ll be checking the lawn in New Hampshire every day for signs of emerging bulbs. I’ll post a photo if it looks anything like Keukenhof Gardens.  Hurry up, spring!

Winterhazel

Of all the glorious blooms that are appearing in our spring garden, the corylopsis or winterhazel may have the grandest display of all. Planted beneath the boughs of an ancient tulip poplar, it is a graceful open woody shrub that puts on a spectacular spring show in this semi-shade location.  In March, before any foliage appeared, pendulous lemon-colored flowers dangled along thin arching stems.  The 3-inch long panicles, thick with clusters of yellow flowers, appeared in such quantity that they illuminated the otherwise leafless garden.

The shrub, found growing wild in the woodlands of China and Japan, is planted elsewhere as an ornamental in protected areas of zones 5-8.  It will do well in moist, well-drained acid soil and seems to be  resistant to pests and diseases.  The fragrance of the blooms is sweet, similar to witchhazel, a family relative.

Michael Dirr says about the winterhazel, “In full flower, they are as beautiful as any plant that could grace a garden.”  I do agree!

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester