From the Sperry Garden – March, 2010

Forsythia in the
Sperry home gardens

‘Autumn Gold’ ginkgo at Dallas Arboretum last November

Close-up of fall color of
‘Autumn Gold’ ginkgo

On A Personal Note
I try to scatter color in various parts of my landscape, and today’s featured plants follow that pattern. I have four clusters of forsythias, and two locations where I have ginkgoes.

Forsythias are my favorite spring-flowering shrubs (tied for first with the various Encore azaleas). Forsythias are northern shrubs that also do fairly well in big parts of Texas. They grow to 5 or 6 feet tall and wide, and they do best in full or nearly full sun. They’re not especially picky about soils, but they grow best when they’re kept moist at all times, and when you supply them with nitrogen regularly. I don’t prune mine very often, and then, I try to do so only in the spring, immediately after they finish flowering. The photo shows one that’s been blooming for 10-12 days, and that shows no signs of stopping. This is a plant with pure yellow blooms. They give a wonderfully crisp, cheerful color that complements redbuds, spring bulbs and pansies handsomely.

Then, looking ahead to the fall, my favorite source of yellow fall color is ginkgoes. Again, it’s a plant that’s more common in the North. But, it’s well suited to the eastern half of the state. You always want to buy a grafted male tree (such as this variety ‘Autumn Gold,’) since female ginkgoes bear messy, smelly fruit. Should any sprouts come up from below the bud line, trim them off immediately.

Ginkgoes have unusual, vase-shaped branching. Their leaves look like those of maidenhair ferns, and for that reason, the tree is sometimes referred to as maidenhair tree. In the hot Southwestern climate, ginkgoes grow slowly to 30 or 35 feet. They respond to all-nitrogen fertilizers and consistently moist soils.

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Posted by Neil Sperry
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