Monday, May 19, 2014

Time to pick up the threads of this blog again.
A good way to restart is to perhaps start cataloging what is living in my garden, before I completely lose track.

One shrub that is blooming now is Fothergilla major a member of the Hamamelidaceae or Witch Hazel family. There are two species native to the United States; major and gardenii.  Mountain witch alder is one of the common names for both species of Fothergilla. The genus was named for Dr. John Fothergill, a Quaker natural history enthusiast who subsidized various botanical and scientific endeavors including William Bartram's collecting expedition to the southeastern United States in the 1770s.
I seem to have lost the original tag for the plant in my garden, but based on the phenology and morphology, I'm fairly certain that I have F. major which produces flowers and leaves simultaneously; F. gardenii produces flowers before it leafs out.  F. major is also more abundantly branched and taller than is F. gardenii, which also fits my plant.  The latter has been in cultivation in England since the mid 1700's,
   Currently the plant in my garden is about 5ft tall and 3ft wide.  It is a pretty slow growing, hardy and unassuming. The flowers are white bottlebrush that are supposed to have a fragrance like honey. I haven't noticed any strong scent, perhaps it is more noticeable in warmer weather.  The dominant white color comes from the stamens (filaments) petals are lacking, sepals small. Some years, the leaves turn a nice golden color. I haven't given this plant much care other than occasional light fertilizer and keeping the invading Sitka rose, Salmonberry and Spiraea from taking over its territory. Fortunately, it seems to enjoy the well drained, acidic soil and exposed site in which it lives. 

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