Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I'm having a moment

It's very hard for me to visualize things that aren't directly in front of me, which is why I often try to sketch out my garden plan ideas so that I can see them. It must be that it's the first day of spring, though, as I'm able to visualize something I've been struggling with for awhile.

My forsythia.

I've mentioned it before and have talked about keeping it and just trying to prune the heck out of it/dig out part of it. But as I look at it every time I enter my front door, I've come to realize I'm just not happy with it, for the following reasons:

1) It's lopsided. The photo above doesn't really do it justice, but the right-hand side of the bush is almost completely flat; otherwise, it gets in the way when you're walking down the side path. The rest of the bush is rambling and rounded and spreading toward my neighbor's driveway. I'm probably the only one who notices it's lopsided, but it still bugs me to no end.

2) The maintenance. Though I have a small city garden, there's a lot going on in it for one person to maintain.  If I keep the forsythia and try to prune it into a nicer shape and/or downsize it, who does the work? I do, and it takes away from other tasks I have to get done around the yard. As I was reminded when I moved my viburnum, I really dislike moving and digging out bushes. I have no interest in doing it every few years to try to manage a bush that is clearly too big for its space.

The pros? I love that it provides early spring color and a nice bit of privacy from my neighbors and from the street if you're in the back yard. However, as my First Day of Spring Visualization is taking shape, I realize I can still get early spring color and some privacy with something that's more manageable and more appropriate for the space.

So what will go in its place? I'm not 100% sure yet, but I already have a good start - my giant climbing rose.

It's directly behind the forsythia, though you'd never know it in that first photo above. If I can get another smaller shrub or bush to add some depth in front of the rose, I'll be in good shape. Or, I could purchase an inexpensive fence panel (the area is only about 6 feet wide) and then plant in front of it.

So, I'll let the forsythia bloom, and then once my mental image is more concrete, I'll remove the bush. It may not even be this year, but I feel good about the decision that it will eventually happen.


  1. Ha! I finally figured out how to comment on your blog but I'm not sure what I clicked. Anyway, forsythias are not the best candidates for a small controlled space (but you already knew that). Depending on how old it is, they can be a bit** to dig out too. If you want to try and keep it, you could wait til it finishes blooming then cut half of the longest stems to the ground or just cut the whole shrub to the ground then prune a little every year after flowering to keep the size in check going forward.

    Or you could just replace it...

  2. Here's a really good article on pruning forsythia.

    My thoughts were cut out at least 1/3 of the canes from the base, but I think you can do more than that, especially if you feel like it's gotten out of control. The other good advice in the article is to prune out the branches that touch the ground, so they don't take root!