Blue Shadow Fothergilla (Bottlebrush)

Gary Handy of Handy Nursery in Boring, OR recently discovered and introduced a new breathtaking blue-leafed form of Fothergilla. The new plant is a branch sport of Mike Dirr's strong growing selection Fothergilla major ‘Mount Airy.’ Like all Fothergilla it is adorned with honey-scented, bottlebrush flowers in early spring before as it leafs out. But what sets this outstanding plant apart from the rest is its colorful dusty blue leaves. In the autumn the blue foliage transforms to shades of rich red, orange and yellow.

Some of you may remember a plant call Fothergilla gardenii 'Blue' mist and if any of you have experience growing it you know that it was a gardeners challenge to keep it alive let alone get it to grow larger. The only thing Blue Shadow has in common with this mail order marvel is its blue leaves. Blue shadow is a strong growing plant that anyone can grow so long as you give the plant some decent soil and even moisture. The species F. major is a larger plant with larger leaves. It matures to about 3-4' as opposed to F. gardenii which tops out around 2-3'. Partial shade is perhaps the best growing location for all fothergilla, although it will tolerate full sun if give adequate moisture. It is hardy from zones 4-9 (Understanding plant zones )

What I like best about this plant is that it represents the transformation of a species with two seasons of interest into a plant with season long interest. In the spring you are rewarded with beautiful white, bottlebush-like flowers, and then the blue leaves emerge and darken as summer progresses and in fall the orange and red hues of the autumn foliage give the plant yet another dimension.

While still hard to find at retail garden centers, you can obtain Blue Shadow from Rare Find nursery and Wayside Gardens both offer this new beauty.

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