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Featured Plant - Forsythia

Forsythia is uniquely suited to ikebana. Its long, meandering branches create an elegant line for shin or soe (main stems). The blazing color of its delicate blooms immediately captures attention in garden or vase. It lasts forever, with yellow blossoms making way for bright young leaves, changing and enriching a presentation over time, often for as long as a month. It's a no-brainer -- plunk a few stems in a container and, voila! -- ikebana.

Forsythia is a deciduous, easy-to-grow garden shrub that can reach the height of a fruit tree but more typically is maintained at three to five feet as a garden accent or border wall. It bursts into bloom in early spring, a glorious hallelujah for any ikebana enthusiast slogging out of a drab, barren winter.

Small but riotous flowers radiate sunshine yellow, attracting bees and butterflies and other pollinators before making way for bright, equally numerous leaves.

More often straight and upright, its slender branches can also be found to twist and arch for a creative flourish in an arrangement.

In the garden, forsythia are low maintenance and fast growing. They can tolerate poor soil and, once established, have some drought resistance. Plant in full sunlight and they will thrive. With care, propagation is easy. Simply root and transplant a stem cutting. Often a shrub reproduces on its own when a branch contacts soil and sets down roots.

To prune or not to prune, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler to grow wild and free or polished and polite? Forsythia -- perchance to dream indeed!

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