Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Yellow Bells

My life in appalachia - Yellow Bells

As I drive to and fro it seems yellow bells dot the landscape no matter which way I look. Why even looking out my kitchen window gives me a peek of their bright nodding blossoms.

Forsythia-or yellow bells as its commonly called around here thrives in our mountains. I always thought of it as an old fashioned flower-I suppose because both my Grandmother’s had it growing in their yards.

Back in the day when we first moved into our house and I was looking for things to plant in our barren red clay yard, Granny showed me how to plant yellow bells. She said “Come Spring of the year we’ll get you some cuttings from my forsythia bushes, all you have to do is stick them in the ground and they’ll live.” It wasn’t that I didn’t believe Granny-but it seemed impossible that all I had to do was cut a piece off and stick it in my red clay dirt and I’d have my own yellow bell bush.

But that’s exactly what me and Granny did-and 16 years later my yellow bells are still alive and welcoming Spring.

Over the last 2 years, Don Casada, has pointed out forsythia bushes way back in the mountains to me. Yellow bells growing where people have long since stopped living.

Each Spring when those yellow bells off the beaten path bloom-I believe the bright yellow blooms carry forth part of the beauty from the caring hands which planted them so many years ago.

Is it Yellow Bells or Forsythia where you live?


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    March 24, 2012 at 6:50 am

    We’ve always called them Forsythia. But I think I like yellow bells more!
    I used to have some growing here but they all died out. I think it’s just too dry where I planted them.
    Thanks to you and Granny I now know how to start some new ones. I think I’ll see if my Mother-in-law will mind if I take a few cuttings.

  • Reply
    March 20, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    A creek bordered two sides of our yard when I was growing up and the entire creek bank was lined in forsythia. I have never heard them called “yellow bells,” but I do love that name. Unfortunately, I also have a few bad memories of these beautiful bushes because I was always bad to backtalk mom & dad and guess what bushes they always sent me to for a switch?!

  • Reply
    March 17, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Forsythia in Western Ky. The Redbud trees are really pretty here now. Japonica is blooming. And the leaves are coming out on the Tulip Poplar in my front yard. Mother Nature is busy!

  • Reply
    March 17, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Forsythia here (MA) but I like Yellow Bells much better, and mine will be Yellow Bells from now on 🙂
    When I come upon daylilies in the woods, it indicates a former homesite and there’s usually a remnant of a stone wall nearby. Also, when there’s a row of massive old sugar maples. There are lots of old sugar maples in the woods; it’s the “row” – sometimes obscured by forest grown up around and between – that gives it away. Settlers and homesteaders used to plant a row of sugar maples to provide an annual supply of maple syrup for the farm. The last huge old sugar maple on my place died just a few years ago.

  • Reply
    March 16, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Where we grew up, it was called Forsythia, although our youngest sister Cindy thought they were named just for her and were called For Cynthia. ;o)
    Our grandmother had a knack of sticking a twig in the ground, and the most beautiful things would grow from them. She started several willow trees in the yard that way, along with forsythias, pussy willow and lilacs, that I can recall.
    Some grew larger than the garage, and one big old weeping willow that she planted in the wet spot over the bank grew taller than the house – and big tall old farmhouse it is too. ;o)
    God bless.

  • Reply
    teresa atkinson
    March 16, 2012 at 10:14 am

    I use both words — depends on who I am talking to. I have a huge one in the back yard and a smaller one by my front porch that needs to be moved.

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    March 16, 2012 at 1:33 am

    hiya tipper.. here its called forsythia and they are in bloom also.. i love their cheery little bells hanging.. and such a bright yellow is so pretty… (my granddaughters fav color )
    hope all is well in your corner of the world.. sending big ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    Jen Y
    March 15, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    I have a gorgeous forsythia bush that I look forward to each spring. I always cut some branches to bring in & force some blooms because I’m impatient for spring. This year it’s prettier than I ever remember.

  • Reply
    John Stonecypher
    March 15, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Back in 1965 my mother gave me 5 good size yellow bells I now Have 85 in they are sure pretty now. My daughter lives in habesrham county. I got them started up there.
    mammy still lived on

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 15, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    I read back over what I wrote this morning. Did I sound like Norman Bates? My mother loved flowers of all kinds and knew the common names of all of them. I guess I didn’t read your question right. I think it’s my eyes. My optic nerve is connected to my eyes on one end but is dangling in empty space at the other.
    We have Yellow Bells all around here. I had no idea what Forsythia was. Now I learn they are the same. I spotted an old house site with yellow bells beside the road this morning but this afternoon it was pouring rain, so I’ll gettim tommar.

  • Reply
    Danette Mowery
    March 15, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    I call them forsythia, but I’ll teach my young uns to call them yellow bells, since they were born here. I’ll be looking for them up in the mountains from now on — what a neat way to know someone used to live there. Thanks!

  • Reply
    March 15, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    I have heard them called by both Forsythia and Yellow Bells. My Mama always called them Yellow Bells as I do still. I really do love them and around where I live in Western NC they are in bloom everywhere. I did not know though that you could just break off a piece and stick it in the ground to start a new one. I will definitely give that a try. Thanks, Tipper, I definitely learned something new today.

  • Reply
    Carol Killian
    March 15, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Forsythia in middle TN. We will add yellow bells to our vocabulary. Thank you for the information!

  • Reply
    March 15, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Forsythia here ~ I’ve lost my bush, to old age I suppose, and I miss those yellow blooms this spring. It is true, that where an old homeplace used to be, one will see buttercups and early blooming shrubs, and wonders about who lived there years ago.

  • Reply
    March 15, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Forsythia here in my part of WV. It is that in PA where my folks live too. Either way, I love them…a great early sign of spring!

  • Reply
    Melissa P (Misplaced Southerner)
    March 15, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Believe it or not, even here in Michigan, the yellow bells are starting to get buds all over. It’s been a freakishly warm winter and all my plants are easily a month ahead of schedule. Made it all the way to 76 yesterday! Just prayin that everything doesn’t bloom and then get blasted by an ice storm. Wouldn’t be the first time.

  • Reply
    Lonnie Dockery
    March 15, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    We called them Easter Bushes Tipper. I say “forsythia” now…just so people will know how sophisticated I am.

  • Reply
    Kaye Moore
    March 15, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    My mama always called them yellow bells here in eastern North Carolina. We had a huge bush in our front yard. And yes, they really do take root if you just stick them in the ground!! only city folks buy them from Home Depot lol

  • Reply
    B f
    March 15, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    well so far its forsythia , and i started mine from a limb broken off a friends bush , very easy and a good remenderence

  • Reply
    John Reese
    March 15, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Forsythias here in Ohio My wife told me last fall it was time to cut them back,cut them clean to the ground. Hope they come back. I kind of like them spidery,but we know who won this time.

  • Reply
    Tammy Flectcher
    March 15, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Forsythia and I love them.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    March 15, 2012 at 11:10 am

    In Choestoe, Union County, we called them “March Flowers,” (and also “Yellow Bells”). I was grown, and it was my high school science teacher, Mr. Camp, who told our class that “March Flowers” and “Yellow Bells” were Forsythia. I thought I had really learned something special to learn the authentic name of our hardy, beautiful, March-blooming plant. When I moved from the mountains to Milledgeville, GA in 2003, I brought along some cuttings of Forsythia, and now, in February here, those hardy March Flowers blossom forth their faithful beauty and remind me of mountains and home. For, no matter how long I live in this middle Georgia area, my heart will return to the highlands, the mountains of home, and the memories of Yellow Bells bringing early beauty to the still-gray yards.

  • Reply
    March 15, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Forsythia here in Kansas. It is blooming everywhere I went yesterday on my way to Wichita. Also the daffodils are so pretty now. Hope we don’t have any snow, but then again we had only a dusting so far this year so maybe the “big one” is due. LOL.

  • Reply
    March 15, 2012 at 11:10 am

    In Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska I’ve only heard it called Forsythia- Yellow Bells is new to me-
    Do you have Butter and Eggs around there? I looked it up and its proper name is Linaria vulgaris-
    it is also called Yellow Toadflax-
    I’m not sure why but I always loved that name for a flower when I was young-

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    March 15, 2012 at 10:52 am

    I love that bush. I have two of them; I remember them from when I was a younster. Thanks for sharing with us.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    March 15, 2012 at 10:32 am

    The yellow bells finally gave in to the warm temperatures and started blooming like crazy…
    We have a row in front of the pasture fence along the driveway and by the side of the woods…
    We have at times had to cut them back as they can be invasive…
    I love them so much…
    Several years ago when I was still working, we got to go home early…A wet snow had moved in on April 6th…It was coming down so fast in big fluffy snowball flakes…covering everything so fast…The warm tires on the roads could not keep up and a deep slush could not melt fast enough…I barely made it up our drive way..When I rounded the corner there was the most beautiful sight I ever saw…Yellow bells lining the drive with at least an inch and half of wet snow on top of nearly every this time some were beginning to touch the ground…It just made me sick but happy at the same time to see such a beautiful thing..By the next morning the snow was melting fast…and not a bloom seemed to turn brown from their cold wet blanket…and would you believe it warmed up the next day to nearly 70…with my banana creamed topped flowers blooming like nothing had happened…LOL
    Thanks Tipper, Great post…

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    March 15, 2012 at 9:58 am

    We have planted several forsythia around our house because I think they’re so pretty and it gives such wonderful color in early springtime.
    Yellow bells is new to me, but I really like that name.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 15, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Yellow Bells, my grandmother had lots of them.
    The first time I heard of Forsythia I said “what’s that” the person described the spring yellow flowers and I said “oh, you mean Yellow Bells.”
    Yellow Bells make a good hedge. They grow easily, thickly and quickly…..and in the spring they are beautiful!

  • Reply
    Sandy Satterfield
    March 15, 2012 at 9:45 am

    waiting for it to bloom

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    March 15, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Forsythia One of my favorite flowers.

  • Reply
    Canned Quilter
    March 15, 2012 at 9:31 am

    i grew up with it called Forsythia but I have heard them called yellow bells: )

  • Reply
    Ken Kuhlmann
    March 15, 2012 at 9:31 am

    I have never heard of forsythias being called yellow bells. We have them in the yard where Mother planted them when I was a kid. I’ll ask Jan if she has ever heard of them being called yellow bells. We noticed that ours are starting to get a green color with the new leaves starting. Kind of worried about this because it is only March and March came in like a lamb. That usually means that it will go out like a lion. I hope things don’t start growing to soon and freeze off.

  • Reply
    Tim Cuthbertson
    March 15, 2012 at 9:25 am

    They are all over the place here, too. My next door neighbors have them in their back yard. Sometimes, when I’m driving down the road, I think they must grow wild.
    Anyway, my wife calls them forsythia. I had never really heard that before, but I couldn’t remember what we called them long ago. It must have been yellow bells.

  • Reply
    March 15, 2012 at 9:17 am

    we don’t have it here in Florida, but when we were in KY it was Forsythia

  • Reply
    March 15, 2012 at 8:48 am

    What beautiful yellow blooms! I’ve never seen them growing in my part of the country.

  • Reply
    Bill Dotson
    March 15, 2012 at 8:46 am

    It’s Forsythia here in the Ohio valley, they are the easiest flower I have ever started when the limb (or whatever you call it)touches the ground they will take root.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    March 15, 2012 at 8:46 am

    This is prime old home site hunting time, Tipper, because the yellowbells and daffodils are in bloom, calling out to the backwoods itinerant “Hey neighbor, come sit a spell!”
    I would guess that around 80% of old home places had, and still have, yellowbells three-quarters of a century since folks had to leave to make way for the park.

  • Reply
    Bob Aufdemberge
    March 15, 2012 at 8:22 am

    It’s Forsythia, and I too have found them growing at old home sites that had been abandoned for at least 50 years.

  • Reply
    kathryn Magendie
    March 15, 2012 at 8:13 am

    I love Forsythia! And yes, they are everywhere right now – beautiful. I haven’t heard yellow-bells, but love that. *smiling*

  • Reply
    March 15, 2012 at 7:57 am

    It is Forsythia here. I like to get cuttings early Spring and place in vases, and before you know it there is a beautiful vase of blooms. One must use care if planting close to house, as it is a tough plant that will take over your bulbs and delicate flowers. I had heard the term Yellow Bells, but did not realize it was of my favorite signs of Spring along with the Robins.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    March 15, 2012 at 7:46 am

    I call them forsythia. I have a few in my yard and they are starting to burst forth with yellow. They are a pretty easy bush to grow. Those and redbud are the colors of spring in our area.

  • Reply
    March 15, 2012 at 7:34 am

    Here in Knoxville we call them Forsythia and I always look for them to be one of the first things to bloom.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    March 15, 2012 at 7:33 am

    I don’t think we have them in South Florida – probably combination of sandy soil, salt air and year-round heat. Looks like a good addition when we move back to the mountains, though.

  • Reply
    March 15, 2012 at 7:27 am

    on a property as olde as the one we live at one would think that a forsythia should be but no so no I do not see any of those yellow blooms here and I never heard them referred to as yellow bells –so once again,Tipper I learned something new from you—oh and tell Chatter I caught up with her outing of her feet in the dirt—my piggy-toes were quite happy yesterday.

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    March 15, 2012 at 7:25 am

    It’s forsythia here, but I like the name “yellow bells”! We are the first people to build a home on our PA farmland and we have the grave of the original German farmer and there were already daffodils planted around his headstone. But out in the front acreage there are daffodils, too. I think someone planted them long ago, just like the yellow bells growing where no one lives anymore.

  • Reply
    March 15, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Most everywhere I’ve lived it has been called Forsythia, but my Nanny Mac always called it Yellow Bells…so that’s what I’ve always called it.

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    March 15, 2012 at 7:22 am

    Forsythia and flowering quince, ‘yellow bells and firebush’ have burst into bloom through our Ozark woods as well. I often wonder about the people who lived in these out ofthe way abandoned places, without the convenience of electricity, phones, TV and computers.
    I had a neighbor lady long ago who lived in a ‘boxcar’ house, built from a railroad car after the lumber trains moved away. She never had electricity or running water, and steadfastly refused to have either.
    Her old yard is a tangle of these blooms and later on will be covered with sweetpeas in many colors.
    Thanks once again Tipper, for a great blog and some good memories!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 15, 2012 at 7:12 am

    I forgot the bestest part of my morning therapy session. It’s The Pressley Girls singing “I’ll Fly Away!” When you rearrange your playlist please keep them at #1.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 15, 2012 at 6:17 am

    What a way to start the day. Get up. Watch the weather. (It’s gonna be 82 today.) Don’t watch no news. Sit down with a cup of hot coffee and read about yellow bells. Can’t do nothing about the worlds problems but can plant some yellow bells.
    Mommys been gone for 37 years but today me and her might stop somewhere along the way and cut us a few yellow bells to bring home and stick in the yard.
    Thanks Dr. Tipper for finding a way every morning to put me in a good mood.

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