Forsythia, a bush very desirable and valuable to the landscape, has become the modern day yew bush. Once valued and planted for its exceptional qualities in the landscape, it has become shunned and avoided as the scum of yesterday. Which raises a valid question; what occurred to cause Forsythia to fall out of favor, and what could we have done to have avoided that?
Forsythia provides an impressive display of showy yellow to gold flowers in early spring, a performance rivaled by very few bushes. With the development of new varieties that had improved color and more upright form, Forsythia became a staple in yards and soon the splash of yellow in early spring covered entire neighborhoods. But what changed, to make homeowners turn on these bushes and replace them so readily?
Forsythia became too large: As forsythia bushes that had been planted everywhere all became large, Forsythia became synonymous with an out of control landscape liability that would clog up large spaces and block windows and paths. Bad site selection and improper planting was definitely a factor here, as many people judged the bush by the size it was when they got it rather than by its full size potential. Although Forsythia can be pruned to be kept in check, many neglected to do so and ended up with a bush that outgrew its spot. Once this occurred widespread, the bush ended up with a bad name that overshadowed its good qualities and led to it falling from favor.
Forsythia became cliche: In the pursuit of the next novelty, in pursuit of unique plants that brought individuality and unique character to the landscape, Forsythia quickly became an obstacle to these goals and had to go. An overuse of something usually provokes a counter-reaction, and this was definitely one of the factors leading to the decline of Forsythia in the landscape.
Forsythia became incompatible with the landscape: Forsythia’s reputation as an overgrown, high maintenance shrub caused people to look for other options rather than how to properly situate and maintain Forsythia. And because the landscape is usually more an expression of the homeowner than just a desire to have natural beauty, Forsythia was selected against in favor of comparable plants that were more unique and less likely to appear in every other yard.
However, Forsythia can still be a good plant in the landscape. Because the bush can get large, it should not be planted too close to driveways and buildings. Instead, it is perfect for use as a large shrub and for along the borders of forest or open areas. Its spring color is still very impressive in the landscape. Forsythia can be trimmed to a hedge and kept in check, although it will need to be trimmed at least thrice a year. Alternatively, it can be chopped back every few years to be kept in check or selectively pruned, to regulate its size. With time, as forsythia gets ripped out, it will fade into memory and surface again as a landscape resource, much like yew bushes are doing nowadays.