Pluses: unusual flower, nice texture, fall colour
It’s surprising that Fothergilla gardenii is not used more often in gardens. A small shrub, it bears white bottlebrush-like flowers in spring before leafing out. The small one-inch creamy white flowers are fragrant and last for three weeks or more.
The foliage of fothergilla was also what attracted me to this plant. Leaves in summer are blue-green and have an interesting ripple potato chip like texture. The look almost leathery at times.
It is in the fall though when dwarf fothergilla really shines. The foliage turns into a stunning display of red, orange and yellow, sometimes with multiple colours on just one leaf. Fothergilla begins to acquire it’s fall colour quite late in the season. I have found that in years where we have an unusually cold fall, along with a hard freeze or two, fothergilla will not display much colour that year. Plant fothergilla gardenii in full sun and the fall colours are more intense.
Fothergilla grows less than three feet tall so can be used as a specimen plant in a small garden or plant some in groups throughout a larger garden to truly appreciate the fall colour. It may take some time to establish but have patience, it is well worth the wait.
Fothergilla gardenii prefers a slightly acidic soil although mine were planted in the Hawthorn Grove and side gardens enriched solely with fallen leaves and mulch over the years and have done very well so far.
Garden Location: Carolinian Garden and Hawthorn Grove.