by Leslie Cox; Wednesday; October 23, 2019

Autumn is all about colour in the garden. Or it should be. It is certainly what I look for on grey rainy days like we have been getting lately.

One standout shrub which merits mention is Fothergilla gardenii, or dwarf fothergilla. Its foliage is rich in colour: yellow, apricot, orange and deep burgundy…with the odd leaf stubbornly refusing to give up on summer by retaining its bright green hue.

This plant is in the back garden where I can look down on it from the kitchen window. Therefore, its present colour scheme not only brightens a rainy day but makes my time spent washing dishes a little more pleasant.

Native to eastern United States, fothergilla is in the witch-hazel family, Hamamelidaceae, which makes sense as soon as you see this shrub in bloom. The bottlebrush flowers appear in April through early May before the shrub leafs out. Bonus is their fragrance…delightful for people and bees alike.

As to size and growth rate, I have to disagree slightly with what numerous references claim. Most claim this shrub tops out at 1.5 – 3 feet (45 – 90 cm). Ours is easily 4 – 4.5 feet (1.2 – 1.5 m) tall.

They also note the shrub has a spread of 2 – 4 feet (60 – 90 cm). This part is true enough although this plant throws up suckers and who knows? If left to its own devices over the space of say10 years, Fothergilla gardenii could, quite possibly, outgrow its 4 foot (90 cm) boundary.

For the time being, however, I am quite content to let this shrub “do its thing” in the garden. So very hard not to appreciate its colour in the autumn garden.