Forsythia have a simple beauty and the best partners enhance this. Obvious choices are golden daffodils planted around them, adding red and orange tulips for contrast. Early tulips should be chosen if they are intended to flower at the same time. A pool of blue scillas and chionodoxas works well too. Traditionally, they are grown with bright pink Ribes sanguineum, which is equally tough and reliable, creating a vibrant pairing. However, its brighter hue could be replaced with the curious salmon pink of Ribes x gordonianum or the orange blooms of evergreen Berberis darwinii. The absence of summer colour in forsythias could be overcome by planting a summer climber at the base. Late-flowering clematis are the best choice here because they can be cut away, almost to ground level in winter, exposing the forsythia stems to bloom in all their glory. The clematis will then cover the forsythia after it has been pruned, and flower from August to October. The forsythia should be well established before planting any climber below, however, or it may become swamped.
Similar in hardiness and habit, flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum, makes a dazzling partner.