Here's a guild design challenge for my new permie friends. I just finished Gaia's Garden and am looking at my back yard in a new light. What would a guild that includes forsythia look like? What would you do with the following? The plants are happy but they are taking up a large amount of space, provide no food, and are basically a forsythia monoculture over an ivy monoculture.
-a huge, mature hedge of forsythia along the fence that borders the eastern side of our urban back yard (about 50 ft long and 8 ft deep)
-ivy growing thickly beneath
-about 2 ft of space between the hedge and the fence where we pulled out a fallen, dead pine and cut some sumac & poison ivy. A few experimental squashes loved growing back there last summer but were tough to get to
-An ugly neighbor's yard behind the chainlink fence that we don't really enjoy looking at
-about $200 to spend
- a desire to grow either vining fruits or small fruittrees - zone 7a
- no desire to dig up the giant forsythia entirely, though we would consider aggressively cutting it back.
The forsythia can stand very aggressive pruning. I would think you'd have to do that to grow much. It will grow back fast too. I'm nut sure about planting vines with ivy vines, but you can always experiment. Fig trees grow faster than most fruit trees and should grow great in 7a. If you were farther north, I think thornless blackberries and raspberries would work good. Not sure if they like your zone or not. How about grape vines on a tall trellis? You could use the forsythia for the trellis but I don't think it'd look very good.
Bees love forsythia. You should have lots of pollinators.
Raspberries grow well around here for sure. I wonder if I trim the forsythia way down (it's 10 ft tall or more right now, but you're right--hacking away at that stuff won't hurt it) a hardy fig or two would like the spaces where the sumacs were, and maybe I could grow annual vines like squashes on the back fence for a few years until the figs get bigger.
Thanks for helping me through this guild concept... So we've got fig trees, tamed forsythia, a few squashes... So I need some later spring/summer flowers for the pollinators, and a nitrogen fixer of some kind, right?
Any ideas about plants that would grow well in the shady spots where the ivy is now? Something that is tough enough to mix in and perhaps crowd it out over time? Um, is there such a thing as a plant that will crowd out English ivy?