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My Forsythia Bush

IMG_1808The tight buds on my Forsythia bush showed just a hint of yellow the morning that I left town for five days. Days that were warm and sunny. Days that coaxed those tight buds to open. When I returned home, bright yellow blooms screamed “Spring!’ I love my huge Forsythia. Those golden yellow flowers announce that cold weather is almost past and warmer days are sure to come.

Many years ago, I read a quote from a book published in 1849 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. “If Spring came but once in a century, instead of once a year, or burst forth with the sound of an earthquake, and not in silence, what wonder and expectation there would be in all hearts to behold the miraculous change!” I think of the beginning words of that quote every spring when those first yellow blooms open. What if we experienced the beauty of spring only once during our lives? We’d take pictures and tell our children stories about the miracles of spring.

I’m not a gardener and have very few blooming plants in our yard, and I’m really proud of the Forsythia that grows close to our driveway. It’s easy to grow and fast growing – one to two feet per year. My Southern Living gardening book states that no one ever asks “how to grow Forsythia.” The questions are “to prune or not to prune and how to prune.”

How to prune has created some tense conversations between Husband and me. Maybe we wouldn’t say the exact same words, but every discussion went something like this. He said, “That bush has gotten really big and out of control.”

I said, “I love it. It looks natural,”

“I’ll be glad to trim it after it blooms,” Husband said.

“I’ll do it,” I said.

“I can use the hedge trimmer and shape it up. I saw some shaped in a square,” he said.

“Some people like that. I don’t. They plant several in a row and make a hedge. I like mine free-flowing.”

“It’s free flowing, all right. How about I cut those branches hanging over the driveway?” Husband said.

“I’ll do it.”

“And it’s lopsided. Maybe even it up?”

“I’ll work on it,” I promised.

The blossoms will fall. And leaves will sprout to cover each branch. My Forsythia has to be pruned or it will take over the whole driveway.   I know that I could cut back the old growth to just inches and maybe I should. But I won’t. Every year, I cut out the dead branches and those that overlap others. I shape the bush enough that Husband thinks it looks better and I think it looks somewhat natural.

This Forsythia bush isn’t just about spring. It’s like the one that I found Easter eggs hidden under when I was a kid. It’s like the one that Mom cut branches off of when just a hint of yellow showed. She stuck those branches in a tall glass vase filled with water and within days yellow blossoms opened. It’s like the one that Dad thought should be trimmed to form a neat square and Mom wanted it to grow naturally. It’s like the one that Mom pruned and never let Dad near with his hedge trimmer. It’s like the one that announced spring when I was a kid.