Information for the amateur gardener

Fothergilla Monticola May 12

Such an eye catching shrub is the Fothergilla Monticola

Fothergilla Monticola a shrub which I was not familiar with

Profiling a plant which I am not familiar with, I wont make a habit of.  However every now and again something catches your eye and you have difficulty getting it out of your head.  For me, Fothergilla Monticola is one such shrub. I first came across it in April of 2011 on a visit to Crathes Castle gardens. I did take something like a dozen pictures of it, just to make sure I had at least a couple of decent ones to show you.

I have of course had to do a bit of research on this shrub, but hey I don’t see a problem in that, doesn’t all of our information come from both experience and what is passed on by being educated.

Fothergilla Monticola (Hamameleoaceae) a member of the Hamamelis family with creamy white bottle brush type flowers in Spring, grows to about 6.5 ft tall. The blooms are very striking and said to be scented, growth is also mentioned as being quite slow.

The fact that I had not seen Fothergilla before made me think it may be on the tender side. Crathes Castle gardens are in a sheltered position and about fifteen miles inland from Aberdeen. In spite of the short distance from the city, Crathes is in fact milder in Spring and Summer than we are on the coast. However this does not protect the gardens from the cold weather in Winter where the temperatures are lower than we would expect in town.

Fothergilla Monticola is said to be hardy down to a temperature of minus 15c/5f which should make it suitable for growing in Aberdeen as our temp very seldom goes as low as this, and on the occasion that it does it is never prolonged.

Fothergilla Monticola is also said to be quite stunning in Autumn when the glossy toothed dark green leaves turn various shades of red and orange.

I just do not know where I am going to find a place in the garden for this beauty, something is going to have to go.

Hardiness – Fully hardy

Position – Sun/part shade

Plant prefers soil to be on the acidic side

After seeing this shrub last year, I spotted that Rosie of Leavesinbloom did a very interesting post on Fothergilla Blue Shadow, do take a look.

—Mail Order— I could only find the variety which Rosie profiles.

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After living for twenty seven years in the same house, it isn’t all that surprising to find that some trees which we planted in the early years had outgrown their situation.  You know what its like, the specimen which you were once so proud of is now blocking the sunshine to such an extent, it just has to go.

What about the Sorbus Cashmeriana (Rowan)

It wasn’t time for you to go, you were one of our favourites and only little.  Cashmeriana, the first of our Rowans to burst into leaf in early Spring, followed by pale pink flowers and then those large white berries which you produced in abundance every year from late August through till December some years.

You weren’t a very tall Tree, in fact at seven feet you were rather short, well formed though, just like your owner.   I think your height may have been stunted by the positioning, where there was a huge rock underneath  probably restricting your roots.

Cashmeriana is said, not to be very long lived.  This Spring we noticed the leaf buds of the other Rowans developing and thought it strange that our white berried one was still bare.  On closer inspection it became clear that the Tree was dead.  Yes Cashmeriana is gone and will be missed.

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On a cheerier note here we have a few plants which were looking quite good in April/early May,

  

A touch of white is welcome at any time of the year. Osmanthus Delavayi on the left actually first opened its blooms in March and continued to look good till the end of April.  I often undeservedly overlook the Viburnum Tinus.

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Just look at the Cherry Cheals weeping, what a sight for sore eyes.  Makes me think of the gardeners who say they don’t like pink, others have a dislike for yellow, and then red often gets the works as does orange.  Oh my, I just don’t get it, ah the bliss in my simplicity.  Mind you everyone loves blue (hurrah)

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A cheery container in the back garden and another by the front door.

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I have been known in the past to say that the only dependable Camellia for the Aberdeen area is the Williamsii Donation.  Well well, look what we have here, a lovely red Japonica. It has been in the woodland for a good few years and normally has three or four blooms. This Spring, wow it had twelve flowers.  OK so its not smothered like Donation normally is, however it always looks very healthy with lush dark green glossy foliage.  It was sold in the garden centre as a Japonica seedling.  I have decided from now on it will be known as, Camellia Japonica Myra’s Red.

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On April 21st we have this attractive trio of shrubs. Viburnum Judii, Camellia Donation and the Rhododendron Taurus. This Viburnum normally fills the air with a heady fragrance in April/early May, this year it has been too cold for it to release its perfume.

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Day Lilies can be shy of flowering in some of the colder Summers which we get here in Aberdeen. This unusual form  Golden Zebra has  yellow/gold blooms, however I like it most of all for the very attractive variegated foliage which it has, looking very fresh in late Spring.

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Erythronium Pagoda still looking fabulous in May.

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Dont ask me why, but the Pulmonaria had been absent from our garden for a long time.  The reintroduction this year with Blue Ensign has rekindled my interest. In future expect to see more of it in our garden, Sissinghurst white I think will be a strong contender.

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 Dicentra Formosa in the front garden starts blooming in very early Spring, apart from the flowers, just look at those leaves.  The form Spectabilis (bleeding heart) may have more elegant arching flowers, however I have a preference for the one above.

© 2012, Alistair. All rights reserved.


  1. Astrid says:

    Hello Alistair
    It’s sad when a treasured plant suddenly dies but such is nature, such is life. It does make room for something new and it seems as if the Fothergilla monticola has worked its way into your heart. Try it! It never hurts to try.
    Your other flowers are lovely too. My favourites in this post were the weeping Cherry Cheals and the Erythronium pagoda.
    Astrid
    Astrid recently posted..May 8 – Plant Combos Part 3

  2. Bernieh says:

    Your May garden is looking quite spectacular. What a shame about your lovely Cashmeriana. I just love that pretty little Pulmonaria, and the foliage on that ‘Golden Zebra’ Daylily is just outstanding. I’ve never seen one with variegated foliage before. The Viburnum, Camellia, Rhodo trio caught my eye today as well. So much loveliness all around!
    Bernieh recently posted..Just Pottering Around … My Dry Tropics Garden Journal … Week

  3. Andrea says:

    Hello Alistair, this is the part of your garden which is not registered yet in my consciousness, haha! Am so sorry for the tree that has to go away, and i love the very beautiful berries of that Cashmeriana. I haven’t seen all of these flowers though.
    Andrea recently posted..Red Oxygen Generator

  4. Oh, Alistair, a wonderful post as always! Isn’t amazing how much of a difference in climate 15 miles can make? We experience that here as well. We are right on the coast and our micro-climate is much different from what you see even 12 miles inland. We get ice storms and drying wind in the winter, so while our temperatures are more stable and usually a little warmer, we don’t get the same amount of insulating snow, and gusts to 35 mph are the norm while they are having gentle breezes inland. So while Munstead lavender thrives here, Hidcote, which all the nurseries sell, can’t handle the winter.

    I love that camellia! Wish we could grow those here! I’ve been tempted to get one and keep it in a pot on the deck (so I can bring it in during the winter).

    I absolutely love viburnum but something love it more than we do…. something attacked it last year, damaging and curling the leaves, and it never even bloomed. I sprayed it with my soap, oil, and Neem mixture and it seemed to rebound and was fine the rest of the year, but again this spring, the same something seems to have attacked it again, although this year we were blessed with the fragrant blooms. Whatever is attacking it is not attacking anything else…. so strange.

    Your “Pagoda” and pulmonaria are stunning. We have pulmonaria in our Zen garden. I find it to be a very underutilized plant in this area — and hard to find as well. Our has variegated leaves and pastels blossoms…. but a lovely addition to this shade garden.
    Cathy and Steve recently posted..A Book Review, of Sorts: Dig, Plant, #?%\&… A Gardener’s Soap Opera

    • Alistair says:

      Cathy and Steve, thank you very much for the visit and comments, I love to hear from you. I wonder what could be attacking your Viburnum, I guess you will have to do some research. I think I actually prefer Munstead the Hidcote which has deeper blue flowers blooms for a very short period here.

  5. Jane says:

    I can’t keep up, ther’s always so much gong on in the Aberdeen garden! I noted our Viburnum was very short-lived this year, hardly any blooms & I guess with all the rain we didn’t get out as often to sniff its sweet fragrance.
    I agree your Dicentra Formosa is far more beautiful & leafy…love it!
    Keep up the great work…always a pleasure to visit! x

  6. spurge says:

    Beautiful fothergilla – I haven’t seen that particular one before, but it looks very much like Fothergilla major, which has some of the best fall color I’ve ever seen on a shrub. Your garden is looking wonderful – I especially love that patch of dicentra formosa!
    spurge recently posted..Second Tree Peony

  7. Holleygarden says:

    So sorry to hear about your Cashmeriana. Sounds like the fothergilla may be its replacement! I’ve seen fothergilla in pictures, but never in real life. I think so many plants are becoming more widely available now, as people are demanding more than just the same plants being sold every year. Love your camellia – and naming it Myra’s Red sounds perfect! What a beautiful show Donation puts on with the viburnum and rhododendron all in bloom together. That is a gorgeous display. Your bleeding heart is gorgeous, too. I have one tiny one I’m trying hard not to kill! :O
    Holleygarden recently posted..A Feng Shui Vacation

    • Alistair says:

      The variety which we have is hard to kill Holley. (No that doesn’t sound quite right, what I mean is its hard to kill this type of Dicentra)

  8. b-a-g says:

    Hi Alastair – I agree, the site of a cherry in full bloom is probably enough to convert all the pink-haters. Just wondering if your dicentra patch is a result of naturalisation? … or is it a collection of plants? – whichever, it’s really impressive.
    b-a-g recently posted..Edibles (08 MAY 2012)

  9. So many wonderful things going on in your garden, where do I start? The Camellia Japonica (now-known-as ‘Myra’s-Red’) is absolutely stunning!! Love the day lily with the variegated leaves (would love to see it in flower) and the Cherry Cheals is just too beautiful!

    Fothergilla Monticola is completely new to me – it looks lovely – thanks for the intro to it.
    Christine @ The Gardening Blog recently posted..Camellia bed update

  10. Lona says:

    I always love visiting your garden Alistair. You always have new plants and shrubs for me to view. Just gorgeous photos today of your garden.
    Lona recently posted..Gruss An Aachen Floribunda Rose

  11. Been looking forward to this post Alistair and I wish I could tell you where to get my variety locally but if you get in touch with John Woods nurseries down in England they will be able to tell you if they supply the plant to anyone up here in Scotland. Mine came from there but they don’t supply to the general public and it was a new introduction for them last year. Mine’s in flower now.

    This year my garden has been lacking in so many blooms – not so sure why – maybe the soil needs enriched. Your white dicentra looks terrific along with all that tree blossom while my Pagoda has now finished flowering but the Pulmonarias are still hanging on.

    Have a great weekend.
    Rosie@leavesnbloom recently posted..What captivates you the most in nature?

    • Alistair says:

      Thanks for the information Rosie. Similar up here, some plants have done better whilst others have been poorer than usual.

  12. linniew says:

    Interesting post Alistair. I have been thinking of getting a fothergilla but first I must get better at pronouncing its name. I grow Dicentra formosa, a wild flower here and its blooms are pinkish lavender. So, you didn’t take after yours with chlorine bleach or anything did you?
    linniew recently posted..Everybody out!

  13. Crystal says:

    Sorry to hear about your rowan tree, but at least it will make room for something else. Now what could that be ? I’ve got a feeling you’re leaning towards a fothergilla. Can’t imagine what brought that to mind.
    Crystal recently posted..Take A Giant Step

  14. Fothergilla is a native to the east coast of the US and it is a stunner in the fall….I also have Golden Zebra and my native Erythronium looks so familiar to yours….and of course I adore pulmonaria…it has quite a presence in many areas of the garden…such beautiful blooms there in Scotland!
    Donna@Gardens Eye View recently posted..Gardens Eye Journal-May 2012

  15. debsgarden says:

    Fothergilla is a shrub native to my area, and it is one of my favorites. The blooms have a wonderful fragrance, and the blue-green leaves turn with great fall colors. I also love your Golden Zebra daylily! Your garden really is beautiful. Happy spring!
    debsgarden recently posted..New Options for Watering

  16. alberto says:

    Hi Alistair! That dicentra is stunning, I want it too! does it dies back in a while like d. spectabilis leaving a wide gap? If so, what are you covering the gap with?
    I am so so so sorry for your rowan, even though it is quite strange to me as rowans are supposed to be long lived trees, aren’t they? I have a wilmorinii which is flowering for the first time this year and maybe producing some white hips too. One goes, one comes, it’s the circle of life.
    As for the fothergilla I like it too but it’s expensive and very slow (maybe that’s why it’s so expensive!) and as you confirmed it likes acidic soil, which I don’t have, so I guess I must give up on this fancy named plant.
    alberto recently posted..Bright Colours in a Grey Day

    • Alistair says:

      Hi Alberto, always pleased to see you drop by. I know what you mean regarding Dicentra Spectables, however Formosa which I will be highlighting as my profile plant soon, behaves quite differently, in fact it doesn’t lose its leaves and it goes on flowering all Spring and Summer. In the heat of your Summer it may not flower for quite so long, of course it is deciduous and dies back in late Autumn.

  17. What a beautiful fothergilla! So many treasured specimens in your garden…a feast for any gardener’s eye. The red in that Japonica is stunningly beautiful, so bright and beautiful I simply want to touch it.
    The Sage Butterfly recently posted..The Seven Faces of My Garden – GBBD May

  18. Vesna says:

    Hi Alistair,
    your garden looks wonderful. Thanks for the informations about shrubs and new plants. I haven’t ever seen variegated Hemerocalis foliage. At the moment we have a cold weather in Croatia. It is even snowing in mountain regions.
    Vesna recently posted..First Mushrooms

  19. Interesting that you also are showcasing Osmanthus Delavayi which is the shrub that caught my eye this Spring. Now have my eye on taking a cutting or two as I pass by. Stunning images – especially the pagoda Erythronium and the soft foaming Dicentras
    Laura@PatioPatch recently posted..quinquagenarian’s quizaway

  20. Alistair, Your fothergilla does look like F. major which gets to be about 6′. You might want to try dwarf fothergilla which grows to 3′ with a similar spread. All are hardy to USDA zone 5 which is two full zones colder than where I am. Fothergilla has the best fall color of any shrub I know. I need to check out that daylily. Carolyn
    Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens recently posted..Woody Plants for Shade Part 5

    • Alistair says:

      Carolym, you are not alone in seeing the resemblance to the form Major. It seems monticola has leaves which are smaller than f major and are said to be more akin to f gardenii. In fact it also says that, confusion abounds in this tiny genus with this species being reduced to group status. All a bit heavy for me.

  21. fay says:

    Alistair what a gorgeous tree – I didnt’ know it at all. And, that camelia – I’m thinking that Aberdeenshire is truly blessed with good plants – or maybe thats just plantsmen…….
    fay recently posted..Awesomeness…….and adverturising.

  22. Martin Neill says:

    I love the Fothergilla, never heard of it but what a handsome plant. Clever shot of the day lily, Alistair, did you add the smudged effect round the edges or were you peeping your camera through a gap in a plant? Very effective. Your garden is looking great.

  23. Mark and Gaz says:

    Hi Alistair, your garden is looking lovely and great selection of plants looking great at this time of the year. Shame about the demise of the Sorbus but I’m sure you will come up with a suitable replacement :)
    Mark and Gaz recently posted..The Drama of the Minack Theatre

  24. Donna says:

    I like the bottle brush look of Fothergilla. It makes for an interesting texture in the garden. I never saw a daylily like that before. The leaves and your photo of it are lovely.
    Donna recently posted..W4W – Harmony with Color

  25. I have a fothergilla in a large pot. It’s been there many years but still continues to flower. Cracking plant, Alistair.
    Janet at Planticru Notes recently posted..Hosta munchies…

  26. frédéric says:

    I like fothergilla ,
    I have one in my garden since a long time
    but I did’nt know it’s name the flowers are curious and the leaves become red in automn
    so good!!!

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