A Tale of Two Forsythia Shrubs

Gather round to hear the tale of two Forsythia shrubs.

Here's the first Forsythia, Forsythia 'Gold Tide'. Isn't that a bright yellow? This shrub has been a star performer in the front garden since the first spring after I planted it. I've never been disappointed by its bright yellow display, which comes at just the right time to add a little 'sunshine' in the spring.

I readily recommend this Forsythia to anyone looking for a shrub that forms a nice mound that is about four feet x four feet and provides a spot of brighness in the early spring.

Here's the second Forysthia, Forsythia x intermedia 'Arnold Dwarf'. I can not recommend this Forsythia to anyone. After 8 or 9 years, it has never bloomed. The tag, which I still have, proclaims "Bright Yellow Spring Blooms!". Really? When? Under what conditions? The tag also has a picture that shows just green leaves. That should have been a clue, but I didn't pick up on it. And I had to buy not one, but three of these "garden dogs".

The problem is that the 'Gold Tide' Forsythia is starting to crowd out a nearby Oriental spruce (Picea orientalis ‘Green Knight’). So, once it finishes blooming, I am going to carefully dig it out and replant it someplace. It's too good not to try to save. And with the way it suckers, I'm fairly confident that it will survive. I just have to figure out where to move it to. I might just move it to the other side of the window where it is now, but that means I also have to transplant a small "Flower Carpet" white rose. And depending on where I move that, well, there could be a lot of movement in the garden if I'm not careful!

Here's a close up of the flowers of the 'Gold Tide' Forsythia.
Now, that's YELLOW.

I'll also be removing the 'Arnold Dwarf' Forsythia this spring, though I won't be waiting for it to bloom first (since it has never bloomed) and I won't be transplanting it anywhere. I'll be hacking it out by any means necessary! I just hope I can get enough of the roots out to keep it from returning on me.

One other interesting fact about these two different Forsythia is where I bought them. The 'Gold Tide' was purchased at an independent nursery. The 'Arnold Dwarf' came from a big box hardware store that has a name that starts with "L" and ends with "s". You don't suppose that it was mismarked, or a dog that the wholesaler was trying to unload? Nah, that would be wrong.

Because I've written before on this blog about my Forsythia that will not bloom, my dear, sweet older sister sent me a picture of her Forsythia in bloom today. Wasn't that nice of her? In her email she wrote, "I know your forsythia does not bloom, here's a picture of mine".

Ha! Only my 'Arnold Dwarf' Forsythia isn't blooming. I think my other Forsythia, 'Gold Tide' beats her Forysthia any day. What do others think? Page up to see that bright yellow globe of a shrub at my house. Or look here at her fairly ordinary, yawn, common Forsythia.

And she also sent me another picture, if you don't mind one more picture of some crocuses. I will concede that this is a very lovely scene with crocuses at her house. She'd better watch out, though. Next time I'm at her house, that angel just might disappear and one just like it will end up at my house!


  1. The forsythia is one of my favorite plants.Mine is in full bloom,and looks great right now.I have no idea what kind it is I got the start from one at my mothers,and she has no clue either.

    I would dig up the non-bloomer myself,and put it some where out of sight for the critters to hide in.

    Steven Wilson

  2. Carol, now don't get mad, but I like your sister's Forsythia better than your 'Gold Tide'. I was less interested in them in the landscape than to cut & bring in at the end of winter; those long wandlike branches would be perfect for big vases.

    As to 'Arnold's Dwarf', Hortus Third says this is "low growing, useful as a ground cover with branches rooting where they touch the soil, flowers few, pale, greenish yellow". Your plants are sure living up to their description!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  3. Annie I need to carry my Hortus Third with me to the garden centers, clearly, and ignore the tags! I've never even seen a pale greenish yellow bloom on Arnold Dwarf and those branches do root anywhere they touch the ground. It's a mess of a thicket.

    And yes, when I went out to cut some branches to force indoors, I did realize that Gold Tide doesn't have any long stems to cut! So, I'm not mad you chose my sister's for that reason but I still think mine is yellower-er.

    Steven I have enough trouble with rabbits, the last thing I want is another place for them 'critters' to hide under! :-0

  4. I don't blame you Carol, that is a sweet angel! Your sis sounds like a hoot!
    I love yellow. Your Gold Tide picture is gorgeous. I once had a Forsythia at a house we rented years ago and it was always a welcome site in the spring.
    Good luck with your transplanting. We have been thinking about transplanting a small lilac ourselves. Not sure if we will or not. It's still small, so if we're going to we need to this year.

  5. Aren't sisters grand? Nothing like a bit of competition even when it comes to flowering shrubs... that was a great story.

    Now I'm looking forward to hearing about the fate of the angel ... I have a suspicion that it might be doing some travelling at a later date. Keep us posted!!

  6. I'm pretty sure that it is wrong to steal an angel. LOL

  7. Thanks for the forsythia compare-and-contrast (and for the sense of humor in the face of Arnold Dwarf).

  8. You are a lot warmer than we are, here in Northern Illinois! Our forsythia are not blooming, I have been watching really close!!
    I vote for your forsythia, Carol! It's a very clear yellow, sis's is kinda muddy, isn't it??!!

  9. Carol, You know I think both the forsythia are beautiful in their different ways. I'd really hate to choose. The angel amoung the crocus is really sweet. Wouldn't it be funny to take the little statue and replace it with something similar in size, but an animal or something (as a joke, of course) and see how long before she notices. Just a thought. I don't envy you with that mess of rogue forsythia to deal with. Good luck, Alyssa

  10. I like the arching, flowing look in forsythias myself, but then they need a lot of space to do their thing. About this time every year I look at my neighbors' forsythias and wonder why I haven't planted one yet.

  11. Well, now I know to steer clear of 'Arnolds Dwarf.' I love all forsythias (except those that won't bloom...) so I couldn't possibly pick between the two. (Maybe I should go into politics....)

    Your shrub-moving sounds like what I've got going on now: move one thing, and it's a domino effect :-)

  12. Forsythias are nice in someone else's garden. We had one but I got tired of fighting the huge unruly plant...who got up on the wrong side of the bed. The DOT planted a whole bank alongside some sound barriers along the interstate and they look stunning. Also very big probably 20 feet high because no one prunes them.

  13. now, now girls. No arguing over forsythia bushes. Both are gorgeous.

  14. Have to agree with Annie I'm afraid. I always cut a few branches for inside. I miss mine, it had to make way for my greenhouse. Perhaps I'll buy another one.

    Cute little angel btw.

  15. I hadn't heard of Arnold Dwarf so looked it up to see what it should flower like...it said...'Arnold Dwarf' - popular dwarf form that may be utilized as groundcover since it usually fails to surmount 3' tall. Blooming may not be as profuse as other forms.
    I think it has to go to the great compost heap in the sky.

  16. I have to admit that I prefer the big forsythia that arch a lot. Of course, I trim them back severly after they bloom so that there is plenty of new growth for next years blooms. The picture I sent does not do justice to the color. they are a very vibrant clear yellow, the best I think they have ever been. (Your's is very nice too.) As for the angel, she is being guarded by the same ones who guard the garden bells, so I don't worry about her going missing.
    Kathy, the older sister

  17. Heh...your "bad forsythia" looks like mine! I got one from my mom in Mishawaka, Indiana-it must prefer the zone down there better! Hers bloom like your "good forsythia". I read about one variety that's hardy to zone 3...maybe I'll try it.

  18. So many nice comments, its hard to respond to them individually. I did want to note for Gary that I never mentioned "stealing" the angel. I would just give it a home in my garden! But my sister Kathy will assign her three daughters to guard it the next time I go to her house, so I probably won't get a chance to get anywhere near it!

  19. Isn’t this funny. Tomorrow my blog is about ‘Gold Tide’ and how much I love it. I took a picture of my ‘Arnold’s Dwarf’, which after 22 years is finally in full flower, I hope it came out so I can post it now that I have read this. I hadn’t thought of contrasting them because I think ‘Gold Tide’ is far superior but now I am going to. I hope you don’t mind if I link to your comparison.


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