Friday, November 14, 2014

Plant Profile: Fothergilla - The Unknown Shrub

Today, I witnessed a dreadful act: a pruning job gone wrong.

Of all things to prune improperly, I saw someone hacking at a Fothergilla shaping it into a ball. I was working across the street and it took everything in me not to go over there and say: 'What are you doing?' The reason I care, is you often don't see this shrub in many gardens. Another reason: in most cases, it is a dwarf form, growing so slowly with such a naturalized habit - pruning is essentially unnecessary, in my opinion.

Some folks think it's a form of witch hazel. True enough, Fothergilla gardenii foliage is similar. In October, the foliage turns bronze.

When most shrubs have begun losing their foliage, Fothergilla begin to dazzle you with their reds, and orange hues in November.

White, bottle brush flowers appear in late spring, as the leaves emerge. Quite fragrant and different than the witch hazel flower.

It attracts several pollinators to the garden.

Early flowering shrubs, like the Fothergilla, already have their flower buds on the stems at this time of year. Pruning such plants removes the flowering potential for next year. Please, if you do prune, thin out, tidy and prune after flowering. Preferably not in box or ball shaped forms. Please.

Thankfully, this one will grow to full maturity without being hacked into a ball.

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