Day 21: It is in the details

f flowers 2.JPGI grew up about 350 hundred mile south of my current home. Spring came a bit earlier in the southeastern edge of Iowa. At the point of the vernal equinox we were seeing the early spring flowers. The one that I remember first and foremost was the Forsythia bush in our backyard. In the early spring it commanded your view. In the later years when Mother was older there was a second bush she planted closer to the house. They sat in full summer sun and so each spring they competed for who gave off the best show.

As I walked this morning in Minnesota there is only ice, snow and frosted old leaves to view but going past several bushes if I slow down and really look I know I have found a bush that will bloom in just a few weeks. The branches are lateral (right across from each other). There are buds everywhere pushing out into the grey light of the day. The bark is a rough grey-brown and the bush is sitting in the middle of the yard where it will get full sun.

You know this plant well. It is the Forsythia. It is the bush with the bright yellow flowers and it is often the first to bloom when the weather warms. This bush is native to Japan and showed up in Holland around 1833.  There are 11 varieties. There are two that we know best. These are variety F. Suspensa and was first included in with the lilacs. This bush was a drooping or weeping style. The other variety that came from Peking in about 1861 was more erect. It is the one we seem most often now. It was classed as F. Fortunei.

There are some who don’t care for this bush. It gives us a great show in the spring and then is nothing spectacular the rest of the year. The thing is that if you stop and look in the spring you will see some amazing things. It is a bush that hides some of its beauty in  tiny details.

I have one sprig of Forsythia that I am forcing into bloom in my house. It gives me the chance to look closely at the twig and the flowers. Those bright yellow flowers have red to orange strips inside the petals. I had no ideaF stripes.jpg they were there. There are 12 of them – three to each of the four petals.  I am sure they are nectar guides that the bees can see very clearly. It leads them into the plant were where they find the nectar they need.

The buds yet to open show layers of green and brown.

f buds.JPG

The stem is rough with what are really little spots that are called lenticles that the plant uses for gas exchange. The shape of the lenticle is one of the characteristics that help us identify trees and shrubs.

This is just the beginning of information about this little bush we walk by in the spring or we view from a distance.

Spring can show us those beautiful big displays of flowers but it is also has little details hidden in each plant. If your Forsythia are blooming now go out and take a look. You might want to bring a magnifying lens and a little friend to share the fun with.

If you are in the northland like me and these bushes are still waiting to share their story with you – then you have time to find the magnifying lens and a friend. Set a date for a few weeks from now for your flower adventure.

I can’t wait to go exploring when we have flowers outside!



About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
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3 Responses to Day 21: It is in the details

  1. dmsherriff says:

    I love your observations and facts and story all around the Forsythia. You pulled me in with your past story and moved me to the present and then the facts. The wonder of the Forsythia. As I was reading, I was reminded of the fun my kids and I had when they were little just trying to say Forsythia! Thanks for sharing and bringing up a memory of my own!

  2. Greetings from near-the-edge of southeastern Iowa! Unfortunately, this is not yet a blooming corner of the state, but we are anxiously awaiting the flowers! I learned more about Forsythia from you today–thank you!

    • Joanne Toft says:

      Oh Hello Iowa! – I grew up in Davenport and have family in Swedesburg Iowa – I was hoping they would have a few flowers by now. I guess not. Hope spring comes to you soon as well.

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