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Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Rengyo (Forsythia, or Golden bells)
By LINDA INOKI
Even on a cloudy day in March, golden bells make a remarkably cheerful sight, lighting up the garden with their bright-yellow flowers. In the traditional Japanese "language of flowers," the blooms symbolize "hope." The shrub blossoms on bare branches, and if you cut a few early twigs in bud they will quickly bloom inside the house. In Latin, the genus is named after the Scottish botanist and founder member of the Royal Horticultural Society, William Forsythe (1737-1804). Japan has two native forsythias, but you are most likely to see the Chinese shrub, Forsythia suspensa, which first arrived here in the 17th century. Since forsythia is fast-growing, frost-hardy and happy in any reasonable soil, it has become an international success and can be found in millions of temperate gardens. The type pictured above is the popular Forsythia intermedia spectabilis (produced by crossing F. suspensa and F. viridissima ). This hybrid produces masses of small flowers, about 4-5 cm across, with slightly twisting petals. Forsythia prefers a sunny spot but can also grow in light shade. Unfortunately the flowers have no scent: the only drawback in an otherwise perfect plant.