Saturday, 31 March 2012

The Forsythia Saga

Or a string to your bow.
I'll explain that one shortly.

This is a Forsythia, I do not know its full name, as it was a gift from my neighbour many years ago. In fact, he gave me several of them, just little things they were, but that was then, and this is now. Yes, they just grew and grew. They were originally planted in partial shade at the bottom of the garden, but as the surrounding trees matured, they are now in somewhat denser shade.

The photo above was taken a few years ago, as my plants are not flowering this year, but my neighbour's plants are now in full bloom. And the reason my plants are not flowering; ah, yes, well, it was one of those rare occasions when Nature and I were not working in perfect harmony. You see, I pruned the bushes last year, just after flowering, but I pruned them hard as they had become very overgrown. The idea was that they should have then regrown before the winter. I didn't expect any flowers this year, but I had expected the plants to have bushed out a bit. Unfortunately, Nature wasn't in on this plan. After a cold summer and a very dry autumn, the plants have not grown much at all. Hopefully, they will catch up this summer, as I really would like flowers next year.

And so ends the Forsythia saga. Oh, apart from the bit about the strings to your bow. Apparently, in Korea, there is a musical string instrument called an Ajaeng. And slender sticks of Forsythia are used as a bow to play it. I'd love to have a go at that.

I saw an unusual sight in the garden yesterday, nine magpies, seven of them posed for the photo above. They all appeared to be adults, very strange. They were chased off by a pair of crows. In fact, the crows have also chased off our resident magpies, who for the first time in many years, are not nesting in my neighbour's hawthorn tree. Much to the delight of the blue tits, no doubt.

After a glorious March, the weather forecasters are now predicting wintry weather for early April. Looks like those siskins were right after all.


  1. Forsycja to bardzo ładny i wdzięczny krzew. U mnie w ogródku jest więcej szpaków niż srok. Pozdrawiam.*** Forsythia is a very pretty and graceful shrub. With me in the garden is more starlings than magpies. Yours.

  2. Forsythia are very hardy here. I transplanted my bushes and they are flowering, though in a sunny spot. I love that the stems are used as bows.

  3. Well according to the old Magpie rhyme it's 'seven for a secret' and 'nine for a kiss'...are you sure there's nothing you want to tell us...ah I forgot, it's a secret...;-)

    That is a great photo! I have never seen so many Magpies together.

    The Forsythia in my front garden is an absolute mess, all down to me I'm afraid. It is very old and really needed proper pruning last year but illness prevented me. The year before I had hacked a bit here and there resulting in a few sparse flowers and a lot of untidy bare growth. Now I am reluctant to do anything as I think there may be nests in there.

  4. I thought I had pruned my forsythia severely, but it still flowered. Will have to remember to save my prunings next time in case I need to make a musical instrument ...

  5. I hope your forsythia recovers and flowers next year. I liked learning that interesting fact about the bow. Shouldn't those birds be in a pie? Oh, no, I guess that's blackbirds baked in a pie! ;)

  6. I have seen so many lovely forsythias in flower so this year I bought one myself, a Dwarf Forsythia 'Mini Gold'. It is tiny, have no idea how big it will become, but I guess it is all down to correct pruning. Will have to do some reading I think!

  7. I enjoyed learning some of the special tidbits about forsythia. It is such a symbol of spring with its golden flowers bursting out...

  8. I love the zingy yellow of the forsythia it certainly stands out in the garden, one of mine hasn't flowered this year for some reason but the other is doing what forsythia's do bursting with sunshine.

  9. Lovely sunny photo, Crystal. Like the magpie shot too – quite a spectacle at the time I bet!

    I successfully took a cutting from my Forsythia before leaving our last garden. It grew and grew (flowering too when I pruned properly) and now it resides in my neighbours garden as I needed the space for something else. I can see its flowers over our fence although I have a feeling no pruning regime is going on there. It seems happy :-D

  10. I don't know how often I have said it, why do I not have a Forsythia in the garden. All those Magpies, must have been thinking of ganging up on the crows. What is it they say, one is for sorrow, two is for oh what the heck seven is for (a secret) don't tell anyone, I just looked it up.

  11. Hi Crystal

    Last December I graduated from the University of Birmingham (UK) with an MSc in Ornithology. Since graduating, I have been working with my supervisors on preparing a short paper based on my final year dissertation for publication in a relevant academic journal. Now that we are ready to submit the paper to journals for their consideration, I am writing to request permission to include your image of the magpies in the tree among the additional materials that would be available online to subscribers of the host journal by way of supplementing the published paper.

    The image will be included as one of five photographs illustrating an electronic copy (PDF) of a 2-sided A4 cultural information sheet about magpies that was read aloud to UK schoolchildren in their classrooms as part of my research project.

    I would be grateful if you could please reply to me via email, indicating your approval of this request and providing details of the image credit wording that should appear with the photograph. Please note that neither my co-authors nor I will make any financial gain from the publication of our paper should it be accepted by a journal.

    I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

    Yours faithfully

    Nigel Hopper

    1. Hi Nigel,

      Congratulations on your MSc, and good luck with your paper.

      Yes, you have my permission to use the magpie image.

      Please credit the image to Yorkshire Buddings.



    2. Hi Crystal

      Thanks so much for your prompt reply and for graciously allowing me to use your lovely photograph. I will credit it to Yorkshire Buddings as per your request.

      Best wishes