Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Mending Fences with Forsythia

yellow forsythia in bloom with the ealry morning making it glow

Hello fellow readers, A fence installed by upset neighbors leads to a story about forcing Forsythia to bloom indoors while propagating new plants in hopes of mending fences.

Over the weekend, we took a stroll instead of our usual vigorous walk. I let Jolee sniff, roll in the dry grass, lay in the sun, and watch the birds flit about happily. We particularly love coming upon the Great Blue Heron in the pond on Cobblewood. The prehistoric-looking bird often huddles in the cove to hunt —the same spot we came upon the snapping turtle crossing the road in the fall. I chuckle as Jolee shifts to stalking mode like a stealth cat as we approach, hoping for a chase. The bird ignites in flight, and I remind her, “You’re on a leash.”

yellow forsythia in bloom with the early morning making it glowHonoring the land and a loved one…

As we made our return trip, I glanced at a black chainlink fence recently installed next to Susan and Don’s new home. They built on the lot which was once part of the farm in the family for generations. Don’s sister lived in a house there before she passed away. It was in poor condition. His sister would be pleased that they built a new home, a way to honor her and the land with something beautiful.

Their neighbor installed the fence parceling off where the right of way of the previous driveway had been. It looks odd, like a large dog run along the road, while the neighbor’s house sits way up the hill, far from view.

I heard the story after the fence arrived that it aggravated the neighbor that family members were parked in the driveway after the funeral to consider what to do with the house. Tempers rose. Maybe the neighbor didn’t know that the sister had just passed. One never knows what people are going through, so we ought to be kind rather than harsh and listen rather than lecture.

Division doesn’t solve anything.
a white dog with black ears along the road overlooking black chain link fence.

Division certainly doesn’t solve anything. Unity does.

Later Susan met his wife and tried to make amends, “We want to be good neighbors,” she said. And her reply, “Fences make good neighbors.” Sad to think so. Division certainly doesn’t solve anything. Unity does.

A better solution is a living buffer for privacy and peace with our neighbors. Forsythia fits a country setting, and there’s a large forsythia shrub on Susan and Don’s property near the fence. I suggested they make baby plants to soften the black chainlink from view.

How to Encourage Forsythia to Bloom Indoors 

Encouraging Forsythia to bloom indoors (some call it Forcing Forsythia, but encouraging sounds gentler) will brighten their house these last weeks of winter. And it’s simple and such fun to do.

On a day above freezing, cut branches 1 to 2 feet long as if you were pruning; cutting at a steep angle helps water uptake. Choose healthy stems you won’t miss on the plant filled with plentiful flower buds, typically fatter than leaf buds.

Choose a large vase that won’t tip over and add 4-6 inches of water—place in a bright room above 60 degrees away from direct sun or heat. Recut the stem ends the next day and change the water every few days. Once your blooms bloom, in a few weeks, mist them so they last longer.

Your lovelies will sprout roots.

When the flowers fade, leaves will emerge, and your lovelies will likely sprout roots. Continue to change the water every few days. If your propagation project doesn’t work the first time, try- try again, as dear old Mom would say.

Then after the risk of frost in Spring, Susan can plant her new forsythia babies right into the ground. Loosen up the soil about eight inches and group three to five babies six inches apart. And soon, they’ll have a lovely living wall.

yellow flowering forsythia in its natural fountain shape They are inviting an opportunity to become friends.

The bright yellow flowers of Forsythia are the first we see welcoming new beginnings of a season of growth. It’s not evergreen and only rises about as tall as the fence. Leaving an opening for the possibility of the neighbors become friends. Maybe this story will reach their ears.

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Tip: Forsythia is one of the easiest flowers to “encourage” indoors –The Old Farmer’s Almanac has a handy chart of other Trees and Shrubs you can try, such as quince, apple, crabapple, cherry, plum, star magnolia, pear, dogwood, spirea, and peach blossoms- Forcing Branches into Bloom Indoors

There’s more to the story in the Garden Dilemmas Podcast:

Link to related stories you’ll enjoy:

Forsythia Hedge at Hospice

Forsythia, not Blooming?

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary
  1. R DeTrolio Reply

    I love this one, Mary!

    • Mary Stone Reply

      Thank you, Rosemary, I so appreciate you reading and sharing your kind words, Mary

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