Sometimes you just have to go and have a look at things with the pruners in your hand.
This forsythia gave us a very tentative puff of flower right at the top this month, and I noticed this week that the leaves were just starting to show. Time to bring all that energy down into the lower part of the shrub. However, once my pruners and I took a closer look I realised that 85% of the plant was dead wood. This can happen with overgrown shrubs, the branches twist and twine, they get damaged, the top part dies off but, having remained there, gives no space for the rest to grow.
I cut and looked, cut and looked, got the occasional swipe around the face for my pains - no, no health and safety police, just plain common sense - if you're pulling a large, whippy branched undisciplined mass out of the middle, turn your face away as you pull - thank heavens for deflecting spectacles!!
Once I'd taken out all the dead wood - brittle and green with algae, I was left with a small group of sturdy stems which I have reduced in height, since they had been struggling to reach the light. Now it is just a matter of waiting to see what happens. Forsythia usually puts out good growth once it has finished flowering, so I'm anticipating at least some new shoots from the base and those stems that remain, to furnish us with flowers next year. If this fails then I'm afraid it's out with it!
I'm sure the "lawn" will appreciate the extra sunlight in the evenings - you can see the line of the fence between remaining , too tall shrubs
while below, all this lovely spring'ness, this is happening.
Meanwhile, when not outside enjoying the wonderful spring weather we are having, I have been stitching this little chap. He is a kit by Stef Francis, which I bought at the last knitting and stitching show at Alexandra Palace. I have been storing him up and was reminded of him by Joe's joyful elephant over on his blog here. I have been having such fun with this and now have got to the stage where lots of little stitches will ground everything and pull the different elements together. Perhaps he is en elemental elephant - now there's a phrase one could play with!