Northern Gold Forsythia: Spring Gold
This time I’m giving you the good news first. Northern Gold Forsythia is a beautiful, yellow flowering bush that is fully hardy. It blooms first thing in spring. It grows about 7-8ft tall and wide. It has good soil tolerance and is fast-growing. The floral colour is a mix of muted gold and burgundy. The branches can be clipped like pussy willows and placed in jars to bloom indoors if cut early enough in spring.
Now the bad news. Although the shrub is fully hardy, the flower buds are a little more sensitive to the extreme cold. In mild winters the entire bush lights up in spring. In tuff winters if the shrub is exposed to north and west winds it will not bloom except below the snow line. I’ve seen shurbs at the Morden Research Station bloom consistently each spring. But they are placed in Zone 3B while the Southeast of Manitoba is Zone 3A or a little less towards the Ontario border.
This means that Morden’s minimum temperature is generally between -30 and 34 Celsius each year whereas our area will go down to -36 to -38. Sadly, this causes shrubs like Forsythia and Double Flowering Plum to lose their flower buds more often than not. We can however improve those odds a little by planting shrubs like this on the south or east side of a building. Ideally, wind protection from both north and west sides. An inside corner facing southeast or even a large fence doing the same can significantly improve the blooming potential. Some winters are just harsh, and we won’t see the flowers. Many people still think it’s worth growing these plants because of the spectacular show they put on during the good years. The benefit of course is that they seldom have structural damage from the cold. So, you still get healthy greenery out of the deal. If you like ironclad blooms go with a Lilac or Honeysuckle for a large shrub. If you want something a little more unique, weigh your odds.