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Wednesday, March 7, 2007


Rengyo (Forsythia, or Golden bells)

All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.

"All that is gold does not glitter," by the English author J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973)

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.

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