It’s the beginning of a new gardening season and already I see blooming plants that I wish I could make room for in my garden. On a recent afternoon, I took a tour of my favorite local nursery to admire their many varieties of winter blooming witch hazel.
You will generally find three varieties of witch hazel: the North American native called Hamamelis virginiana, the Chinese version called Hamamelis mollis, or the ornamental hybrid Hamamelis x intermedia. The North American native version blooms in the fall, is incredibly fragrant and has a host of medicinal uses. Both the Chinese version and hybrid are gorgeous, winter-blooming plants.
Witch hazels typically grow as large deciduous shrubs or small trees. The native version grows as an understory tree – perfect to place under a large shade tree – while the Chinese and hybrid versions can tolerate full sun.
Hamamelis virginiana is native to the southeast and northeastern part of North America, with flowers range from yellow to orange. You will most often find the Chinese version ‘Pallida’ at your nursery, which has bright yellow ribbon-like petals with red centers. The hybrids range from yellow to blazing orange to deep red.
Are you planning to add to your garden this coming year? Of course! Every garden is a work in progress, right? Start planning your shopping list now by keeping a flower calendar. Write down which flowers and foliage are catching your eye each month. That will help you design a lively garden that will give you interest all year long. I would be surprised if a fall or winter blooming witch hazel didn’t make your list.
My list is a mile long, so my goal is always to find room for just one more plant… I’m not sure I can squeeze a winter-blooming witch hazel into the homestead, but that won’t stop me from inspecting every nook and cranny just a bit closer in the hopes that I can find the perfect spot.