Thoughts from a Foreign Field

A springtime grumble

brightly colored tulips

I think that it would be politic at this stage to warn the sensitive among you that this blog might possibly be considered offensive by some.

If that is you then, I apologise profusely and suggest that you leave now:  but please come back another day as I do not intend to make a habit of writing blogs like this.


I think it is time for a deeply prejudiced personal rant about my least favourite plants. Spring is officially here, even though it is cold and rainy outside at the moment and with the spring comes the return to our gardens of colour and life: in the majority of cases this is to be welcomed. 

Hooray for the convocation of Cherry blossom, Whoopee for the return of the Rose and Yabba-dabba-doo for the arrival of annuals.shrub blooming

However, there are some plants who I am not looking forward to seeing again. For example my heart sinks at the first flash of a Forsythia – which I know is a much loved garden plant over with you as well as here. It is fast growing and easy to look after but I have major problems with it… firstly because it is such a violent yellow (like being mugged by a sunbeam). I have nothing against yellow as a colour – especially in spring – but the Forsythia is quite aggressive and it also flowers at the same time as all the daffodils and the last thing we need is more of the same. It is a bit like somebody arriving late at a party with yet another dessert when what we need at that time is something palate cleansing and refreshing.

Secondly it has horribly knobbly bark and such extraordinarily dreary leaves for the rest of the summer. dark colored tulip

And thirdly people have a tendency to overdiscipline the plant: more often than not it is planted too close to a path or a gateway and as a result it is clipped into ever more tortuous shapes. If it is allowed to grow wild on the edge of woodland I will forgive both plant and gardener: if not then let all Forsythias be cast from a high cliff into a bottomless pit.

Next: I have written in many places, about how much I adore tulips. I have even made a film about them. There are, however, some exceptions to this: some tulips, instead of being elegant bowls or tapered pirouettes of delicate colour, they look more like samba dancing sea creatures. yellow and purples coming off stems

I am talking in particular about the Parrot tulips. I love a bit of flamboyance as much as the next chap but there is a limit. These tulips are great in vases but not in gardens.

Another shrub that makes my heart sink is the flowering currant: limply hanging pink flowers not only is it extremely boring but the slightest contact with the leaves releases an unmistakable smell of cat pee. (I would just accept Ribes sanguineum King Edward VII if I was tied to a chair and whipped with an electric flex). It is even worse when teamed with a Forsythia.

I could go on but may come over as unnecessarily curmudgeonly. To conclude: wishy washy variegated Phormiums should be recycled prior to germination.

That is enough ranting and complaining: I will now return to be smiley and colored tulips

View Comments


  1. susan749 03/22/2014

    Well, I have never exactly hated forsythia (although the farmer next to us must have (accidentally, I hope) sprayed ours with herbicide when he was spraying his GMO soybeans last year. It seems to have survived.

    Anyway, I love hearing curmudgeonly garden rants! Keep them coming!

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