April 23, 2017

Looking Prickly

Fothergilla gardenii - Dwarf fothergilla or dwarf witchalder

Janine Pineo Photo | Fothergilla gardenii – Dwarf fothergilla or dwarf witchalder

Fothergilla gardenii - Dwarf fothergilla or dwarf witchalder

Janine Pineo Photo | Fothergilla gardenii – Dwarf fothergilla or dwarf witchalder

One never knows what hidden treasure you will stumble across at the Lyle E. Littlefield Ornamentals Trial Garden at the University of Maine campus in Orono when you visit. Something like Fothergilla gardenii, for instance, was a complete surprise. Reaching for the sky was this sturdy shrub, covered in prickly, hedgehog-like white blossoms. The great thing about the garden is that it was meant to test the hardiness of plants thought not hardy in Zone 4. This one is a good example, as most sites state that it is a Zone 5 shrub. Those sites also say it only grows to 3 feet in height, which is not true, at least at Littlefield, as you can see in one photo shot over my 5-foot-7 vantage point. F. gardenii is a member of the witch hazel family, hence the funky flowers. Also known as dwarf fothergilla or dwarf witchalder, this plant is native to the U.S., specifically the Southeast. This deciduous shrub likes full sun but will tolerate some shade. It will thrive in moist, acidic soils.

Fothergilla gardenii - Dwarf fothergilla or dwarf witchalder

Janine Pineo Photo | Fothergilla gardenii – Dwarf fothergilla or dwarf witchalder