Bee-friendly plants series: Forsythia

I never thought of forsythia as much of a bee plant, and according to the literature it is only a moderate source of pollen and nectar. What it has going for it is that it blooms a week before dandelions, when bees are desperate, and it can bloom profusely. The traditional forsythia is not very winter hardy: the amount of bloom and the height of the bloom on the shrub can give you a rear view mirror look at the winter just gone by. Two days of minus twenty in the winter and there will be few blooms in the spring; deep snow can protect the lower branches in which cases there will be blooms at the bottom and the bush will be bald on top. A new variety, Northern Gold, can survive minus 30, so that’s the one to plant for a good reliable show every spring. A mass planting is very showy …and might also do the bees a bit of good. It is easy to propagate forsythia, by softwood cutting in June or by “layering”. Horticultural factoid: water infused with crushed young willow bark promotes root growth in cuttings (see my facebook post on willows).

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