Imagine: You’re disappointed to see summer come to an end, and you really hate it when the sun starts setting so much earlier in the fall. Setting sun at 5 o’clock? Sigh. Fortunately there are plants whose brilliant fall colors that are glowing in the morning as you leave the house and lift your spirits every time you pull into the driveway. And even more fortuitous is the fact that one of these thrives in part-shade, doesn’t grow too tall, and has arresting, powder-blue leaves all summer long. Not only does the fall foliage lift your heart, but you’re already looking forward to the honey-scented flowers next spring.
Name: Fothergilla x intermedia ‘Blue Shadow’ aka the blue shadow fothergilla.
Type of Plant: A deciduous shrub that thrives in sun or part-shade.
Why I love this: First of all, this shrub is native to the Eastern USA and gives those with part-shade the opportunity to have foliage that contrasts with other greenery. The flowers open in late-April and are showy for several weeks in May. I also love the size of this plant – in my garden over the past eight years it’s only grown to about 4½ feet tall.
So spring flowers, blue foliage and summer, and then a grand finale of reds, yellows, purples and gray leaves in October. This plant works well in a shrub border or as a not-too-tall hedge. It combines well with other shrubs or as a background for the perennial garden.
Although ‘Blue Shadow’ Fothergilla likes medium moisture soils I’ve found that it does quite well with only a periodic deep soaking every two or three weeks.
A Word to the Wise: This Fothergilla does sucker to the side, so if it’s planted in a foundation planting you might have to edit side growth out over time as you would a Hydrangea. But it doesn’t spread quickly, and it’s pest and problem free. Only small, touch-up pruning is required as the shape is pleasing as it naturally grows.