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Growing on the High Plains: Wake up, Forsythia!


We’ve finally reached that hopeful time of year. It’s the time when winter loosens its icy hold on the High Plains and the first signs of spring burgeon up from the frozen ground, dotting the naked foliage with the budding promise of warmer times to come.

Today on Growing on the High Plains, let’s celebrate one of our earliest bloomers. Forsythia, the flowering shrub with roots that trace back to the Far East, bursts forth in early spring with its bright yellow blossoms and twiggy thicket. It’s especially well-suited for the High Plains gardener as it requires minimal special care to thrive in our prairie soil—just sun and space, with some basic annual pruning and shaping.

But, as a final bout of frost can cut their blooming schedule short, I’ll offer my best tips to beat back the end-of-winter blues by harvesting a handful of last year’s branches and coaxing a little early springtime reprieve, if only indoors.

Years ago Skip Mancini left the rocky coast of Northern California to return to her roots in the heartland. Her San Francisco friends, concerned over her decision to live in a desolate flatland best known for a Hollywood tornado, were afraid she would wither and die on the vine. With pioneer spirit, Skip planted a garden. She began to learn about growing not only flowers and vegetables, but hearts and minds. If you agree that the prairie is a special place, we think you'll enjoy her weekly sojourns into Growing on the High Plains.