Defending Forsythia

In the front garden at our old house we had a very large and rather old Forsythia shrub which had never been pruned properly. It was a magnificent sight and outshone all the other specimens in our street!

But not only that. I observed every year how it would be covered in tiny insects, hungry for pollen for several days after it had opened.

Hmmm. I was always led to believe how useless it is to pollinators! I know the tiny yellow flowers do not contain as much pollen as certain native flowering shrubs. But at this time of year there is hardly anything else in flower here. So does Forsythia offer emergency food in a time of scarcity? The tiny flies and a type of wasp I watched scrambling for some sweetness in the cool spring sunshine didn’t seem to mind fighting over the early snack. Can you see some flying insects on this photo?

Let’s be honest; there are probably other flowers in our gardens that are not very beneficial to insects. If it’s a favourite of ours, we will no doubt find some good reason for growing it nonetheless. For example, Geraniums (well, actually Pelargoniums). I have always grown them as summer annuals in my yard. They are also of little interest to pollinators, but attract them. They will then find the Lavender or the Violas planted around them. (And I love Pelargoniums. 😉)

Having read many times that we should consider planting other shrubs instead of Forsythia I do understand, but can only go along with that to a certain extent. If there is only space for one or two early flowering shrubs, then yes. I would grow something more valuable. Like Mahonia…

Or Ribes…

But I am fortunate to have plenty of space, so why not grow what gives me and my fellow human beings the most pleasure. After all, it is the first big splash of colour in the spring garden here, and everyone I know says how cheerful it is.

All of this made me think about the benefits of Forsythia on the whole, and not just in spring. After flowering, the leaves will appear and by mid-May will produce a dense, moist and shady refuge for birds. The shade the young Forsythia in this garden provides is still not much, but helps ground-cover plants that are bee-friendly to grow beneath it. And in autumn it retains its leaves until late October. The nearest shrub on the end of The ‘Edge bed here is my still young specimen in October last year…

18th October 2022

And now it is flowering once again in March 2023…

I haven’t seen any flies or bees on this one yet, I must admit…

But I still do not consider it a waste of space…

And at the end of the day, we are all growing a garden for our own enjoyment as well as that of the creatures that visit. So next time you see a Forsythia, perhaps you will smile and think of my defence of this shrub considered so often to be ‘of little value to wildlife’. We can count ourselves as wildlife too, can’t we?😉

Let me know what you think about Forsythia!




In a Vase on Monday: Spring Flurries

Despite flurries of snow, an icy north wind and temperatures just above freezing, there have been bursts of spring sunshine today and the flowers are reaching up to the ever-changing sky. You can see it was actually snowing and sunny at the same time in this photo! (And can you see the Forsythia flowering in the distance? More on that later this week…)

I chose a sunny interval to go out and pick some spring flowers for a vase so that I can join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her Monday meme. The primulas and hellebores are in full flower in the Butterfly Bed…

And there is another ‘flurry’ of spring flowers and a lovely pale Cowslip in the Moon Bed…

I have a few Narcissi and Pulmonarias open now too. And some blue Chionodoxa, Scilla, Puschkinia and Grape Hyacinths. So I ended up picking a bit of everything.

Some warm days last week brought on many plants and bulbs, including the new Foxtail Lilies I planted last autumn. (How exciting to see their shoots breaking through the damp soil!) And the garden is beginning to look green again at last. 😃

Is your garden coming to life yet? And have you also spotted a favourite plant peeking out the ground that made you smile (or even squeal or skip and jump!) ? 😉 Do share!

Have a great week. And Happy Gardening!

In a Vase on Monday: From East to West

So many of our garden shrubs and plants originate from the Far East, having been brought back from China, Japan, the Himalayas etc by ambitious and brave botanists hundreds of years ago. One of them is Forsythia, frowned upon by some, but loved by most for its early cheerful colour signalling Spring.

Well, mine is still not opening outdoors, but I had the foresight to cut some last week so that it would open in time for a vase this Monday. So I am joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her weekly meme, with an oriental theme today.

Many willows also have their home in Eastern Europe and Asia, although Pussy Willow (Salix caprea) is native to much of western Europe too. The buds are just opening on ours, but in milder spots further down the hill I have seen them fully open for a couple of weeks already. A sure sign that the ground is warming up at last!

My prop is a Chinese carved scene which I inherited from my Nanny. I assume it was bought or given to her when she visited my Aunt and her family who were living in Taiwan/Hong Kong in the 1970s. I also assumed for many years that it was made of ivory, but I am not so sure now as I have had to make several repairs to it over time. Nonetheless, even if it is plastic I have always viewed it as a work of art – the willow tree and the moving mill wheel fascinated me as a child.

I wonder if the Forsythia is flowering in your part of the world yet? I can recommend bringing a sprig or two indoors to enjoy up close!

I used my hare jug again, and thank Kimberley for the suggestion of putting Forsythia in it. 😃 I plan to dedicate a post to my Forsythia shrub once it finally flowers outdoors… I hope that will be very soon!

Happy gardening!




In a Vase on Monday: Floating (Away)

After all the rain (and sleet and snow) we have had this winter our garden is saturated and parts of the garden are very squelchy. The trees will hopefully appreciate it although there is standing water all over the place, and we even have a little stream in one spot!

It therefore seems appropriate to show some flowers floating today. Thankfully the flower beds are on high ground and are not in danger of floating away, with well-drained soil helping considerably. 😉


But the Hellebores do float so nicely and I managed to find quite a few different ones to display.

Labels have been lost on many, and several apparently different varieties look identical to me, but I am happy to have these unnamed specimens on my table nonetheless. I do know that the yellow one is ‘Yellow Lady’, the others probably include Ice ‘n’ Roses Early Red and Early Rose, Penny’s Pink, Double Ellen, Carlotta and Noa.

This is undoubtedly one of the best ways to see the detail of each individual bloom, and my large footed Ikea trifle dish that I have had for years is ideal for it. (It has never had a trifle in it which I suppose should be remedied one day!)

My current favourite is the lovely double in the centre…

Which type of hellebore do you like best? Single or double? Pink, red or white? Or even yellow?

Many thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for hosting this lovely meme. Do visit her to admire her beautiful hellebores today too!

And have a wonderful flowery week!


In a Vase on Monday: Beautiful Blue

It is always a pleasure to join Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her weekly meme. Sometimes it is tricky to find anything suitable for a vase in winter, but when I ventured out today it was clear that some Iris reticulata had to come indoors.

They stand out so well in my winter garden and I am slowly planting more of them in various spots. They seem to be untouched by the mice too, which is an added bonus. I have several different shades of deep blue, simply because they show up best against the woodchip mulch. A few brave violas are also flowering, but they – along with the hellebores – are looking a little tatty after some hard frosts.

The little blue vase seemed just right. But there is another vase in the background… can you see the lovely hare peeping around the iris?

This gorgeous jug was a surprise sent over from my Mum last week. 😃 So naturally I had to find something large enough to go in it immediately – some bright and cheerful yellow tulips from my local supermarket!

I adore it! And it will be used more frequently once I have some tall flowers in the garden. (Perhaps my own tulips? Roll on Spring!)

Wishing you all a great week, hopefully with a better weather  forecast than ours! 😉