Monday, May 9, 2011

how do you like your forsythia?

Last week--as if by magic--finally there were forsythia. Those wonderful burst of gold and yellow, glowing in the sunlight. Statements of spring and warmth.  Glowing orbs against the tender green of the grass. Wisps of yellow in the woods. On the way home from the studio there is a row of forsythia carefully pruned into spheres of color. So wonderful. Such a lovely statement of color and hope.

I heard on--of all places--Car Talk--that forsythia is actually named after William Forsyth. Now you must know those car guys--Click and Clack--so funny but sometimes you need to take them with a grain of salt, if you know what I mean. Time to do a bit of research. Amazingly there actually was a William Forsyth--he was the director of the Chelsea Physic Garden in Great Britain and first used forsythia in 1770. One of the founders of the Royal Horticultural Society.  The plant was discovered in China by Robert Fortune--what a wonderful name that is. Later other species were found--there are actually 11 different varieties mainly from eastern Asia. There is an entire website devoted to forsythia--you can find it HERE. On Wikipedia I learn that forsythias are part of the olive family HERE.

Oh how I love these splashes of color. Each year I dig up the sprouts and plant them at the edge of the woods. The entrance to our driveway. On the hill overlooking the house. Wonderful celebration. I try to think of spring without forsythia. My mother had a plant that never really bloomed--of course she pruned it in August or September--not a good idea. But my grandmother had a lovely bush--I knew the color and the joy. I knew what we were missing by not having the forsythia.

But what if you had never seen a forsythia?  I wonder about Europe before it was discovered--would Bruegel's peasants have seen forsythia in the distant manors? Would forsythia have surrounded the cathedrals?  Would the Unicorn have frolicked in a grove of forsythia? Oh my mind can wander. Just think if the Pilgrims had seen forsythia. Enough already, Ann.

I read a wonderful design blog--the writer has found it hard to post recently. Nothing inspires her in the dreariness and sameness of her life until finally she realizes the need for bold splashes of color. And suddenly feels alive. You can read it HERE.  Isn't it true how color can make us feel alive? Isn't that the secret of forsythia?

And I think of my quilts. In spring I want bright colors. Splashes of gold and yellow.  Warmth and new life and my mood rises.

And you--do you have forsythia? How do colors affect your moods? What colors do you work with in the spring?


  1. WOW, I love these colors, they remind me of field of wildflowers in Texas

  2. Thanks Michael--haven't seen the wildflowers of Texas but I do imagine them.

  3. I think forsythia must be a sign of relief in spring for many people...the bright yellow color in early spring after a long, very cold winter definitely gives me hope that summer warmth is on its way! :) joni