The large fothergilla (Fothergilla x intermedia ‘Mount Airy’, Zone 5) in the front garden is making a fool of itself with exuberant bursts of fuzzy bottlebrush flowers with chartreuse green centres that fill the air with the scent of honey. This rewarding shrub has quickly endeared itself to me in the two years I’ve had it, and I only wish I’d planted it sooner. The flowers are delightful white puffs that spangle the bare branches, and continue their show as the foliage emerges. The attractive hazel-like leaves are carried on thin, springy branches that bob and weave in summer breezes. The autumn colour is really lovely, too, with yellow-gold leaves intensifying to deep raspberry and burgundy. The leaves keep their colour for three weeks before falling.
This large fothergilla grows five to seven feet (1.5 to 2 m) tall and wide; there is a group of dwarf fothergillas with smaller dimensions. Both large and dwarf specimens like part shade to full sun and moist organic soil. If you have room for the large shrub, it’s worth the space for the display it offers from spring through frost. Plant expert Michael Dirr says, “Fothergillas do not have a bad season.”
Blooming at the same time is little Japanese fan columbine (Aquilegia flabellata, Zone 3) with many milky white flowers and brightly contrasting blue-green foliage. Later this spring I plan to collect its seeds and start them for transplanting near the fothergilla. Their flower colours are identical, and a little skirt of these six- to eight-inch (15- to 20-cm) tall columbines around the fothergilla would be quite charming.
Other posts by Judith this week:
Posts by Judith last week: