Plant of the Week: LEGEND OF THE FALL® Bottlebrush

It’s finally fall! Here in Michigan, we are in full fall color mode. It’s a wonderful but transient time – in just a few weeks, most of our brightly colored leaves will have bit the dust for another season. But now is the perfect time to talk about fall color, so let’s get on with it, shall we?

Bottlebrush (Fothergilla) is a fabulous native plant with fabulous fall color. Bottlebrush is also a shade-tolerant landscape shrub, making it a very nice choice for planting under trees. And Legend of the Fall® (below left) is no exception – it’s incredibly colorful in autumn, and at 4-5′ tall and wide, it’s also a manageable size for most situations.

But maybe you need something even smaller for a courtyard garden or to plant under a window? We’ve got you covered with the brand-spanking new Legend of the Small™ (above right). This variety is just 2-2.5′ tall and 2-3′ wide. It’s one of many outstanding plants from Dr. Tom Ranney and his team at the NCSU Mountain Horticultural Crops research station in beautiful Asheville, NC. It won’t be available at retail until 2022, but maybe you can plan a site for right next to your Legend of the Fall bottlebrush plant, which is also new but should be available in better garden centers in the spring. Remember, if you don’t see it, ask for it!

Both of these Fothergilla x intermedia are hardy in USDA 5-9 and will grow in either full sun or part shade. That means that much of North America can enjoy this elegant native species.

It’s more than fall color, of course. The common name ‘bottlebrush’ gives you a hint about the flowers: the distinctive white blooms appear in spring and have a nice fragrance.

Fothergilla is a great choice for woodland gardens or as an unexpected specimen in a mixed border. A hedge of Legend of the Fall® or a mass planting of Legend of the Small™ would be a showstopper this time of the year!

Did someone say fall?

For many people, fall is the best time of the year. It’s not too hot, not too cold, and the natural world is a riot of color. Time to break out the hiking boots!

Fall isn’t just for hiking; it’s also for planting. You know that I know that, but the general public seems kind of clueless. So here’s a challenge: whatever your social media of choice, say something about fall plants and fall planting. It’s very sad to see a yard without a fall feature or two. Fall plantings and fall gardens clearly need a marketing campaign.

Finally, if you’re reading this, my guess is you’re not just a plant geek, but you also dabble in a fair amount of word geekery, so check out this discussion of fall vs. autumn. How is it that this most glorious of seasons didn’t get its own name until relatively recently?

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