Susan Harris
All about gardening the eco-friendly way, by Susan Harris and 22 other garden writers and experts.

Little Henry!

November 8, 2008 · 9 comments


I WANT THIS PLANT.  The Itea virginica ‘Little Henry’ is undeniably prettier than the ‘Henry’s Garnet’  I’ve been growing for so long, at least in the fall foliage department.  And the stars are clearly aligning for me to have it.

First there was Jeanette Ankoma-Sey, an actual horticulturist and garden designer who visited my garden recently, which prompted me to take shameless advantage of her by asking for plant recommendations for a part-sun border that got a lot wider after I got rid of the back-yard lawn.   We’d met when she attended the talk I gave to DC’s EcoWomen last summer.  Little did I know she has a hort degree and works for the largest design company in the U.S. (I’m pretty sure) - EDAW.

So, I tell her I want to fill the border with shrubs; what does she recommend?  Itea and fothergilla.  YES!   But which ones?

Then a week later I ran into a writer-gardener who invited me to see her ‘Little Henry’ in its fall glory and voila – I’m sold.  Now I just have to find a few.  Oh yeah, I’m massing ‘em, baby!

Here’s my page about Itea virginica, with a photo of ‘Henry’s Garnet’ flowering.

Thanks to Alison Gillespie for showing me her ‘Little Henry’.


1 Cameron (Defining Your Home Garden) November 8, 2008 at 8:44 pm

I have 7 ‘Little Henry’ and I love those little fellas! :-) The blooms in late spring/early summer are pretty and the fall color is RED!

Design advice — put amsonia hubrichtii with this little guy. I’ve got a few more days before this combo peaks here in North Carolina.


2 linda November 9, 2008 at 8:16 am

They are very pretty little shrubs. I wish I’d gotten a few last year when we had them at the nursery where I work. They didn’t sell them this year. Maybe next year!

3 Susan Tomlinson November 9, 2008 at 5:58 pm

Zounds. hat is truly spectacular fall color. I’ve never heard of this plant–do you think it’s an eastern thing, or have I had blinders on?

4 Susan Harris November 9, 2008 at 6:39 pm

Susan: Yes, Itea is super-popular in the East where it’s native, and I have no idea if it’ll do well in your neck of the woods (TX).

5 Becky Robert November 10, 2008 at 4:27 pm

While we use ‘Little Henry’ at the Scott Arboretum, our favorite is Itea virginica ‘Henry’s Garnet’. Its arching steams currently have fabulous garnet fall color. The red color looks great planted next to the yellow of Clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice.

Another interesting tidbit is ‘Henry’s Garnet’ was named and introduced by the Scott staff in 1984. It has exceptional fall color lasting from October into December reflecting the Swarthmore College school color of garnet.

This cultivar also received Gold Medal Award from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in 1988 for its outstanding qualities.

6 Layanee November 10, 2008 at 6:34 pm

It is a beauty not to mention that winterberry lurking in the background. I don’t have Itea here but it is a great fall color.

7 Gail November 11, 2008 at 7:09 am

Hi Susan, Itea is a beauty and so is fothergilla! The fall color of both is fantastic! Itea can colonize if happy, so folks may have to keep it in check!

8 mosquito protection November 12, 2008 at 7:32 pm

such a pretty plant. i just how it adds a vibrant color (in this case red) to any garden or yard.

9 lisa November 23, 2008 at 4:01 pm

bonus – the beautiful autumn branches cut nicely and hold their leaves at least a week. i just cut my second batch of the fall and mixed them w/ grocery store chrysanthemums – arrangements look very rich & we’re ready for Thanksgiving.

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