Thursday, February 12, 2009

Witchhazel blooms

There’s nothing like a bit of bloom to remind us that spring is just around the corner. Today I noticed ‘Arnold Promise’ Witch-hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia) blooming in Doylestown. Its yellow petals are thin and strap-like; held in loose clusters.

There are several Witchhazel species used in landscaping but the most popular are these hybrids of Japanese and Chinese species. ‘Arnold Promise’ may be the most popular and it showed its colors on February 12 after we had a nice day of 60 + degrees.

This multi-stemmed shrub is a nice addition to almost any landscape and is adapted to a range of growing conditions. It will grow in full sun or partial shade and get to be about 12 feet high and wide with an upright growth habit. Its best characteristic is the early bloom but the summer foliage is a nice, medium green color and it is virtually pest free. The blooms even have a bit of fragrance.
There are other Witchhazel species. For the native plant lover, look for Common Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana). It’s the last plant to bloom, by my reckoning; usually in mid-November. It also has beautiful yellow, strap-like flowers. Sometimes they are obscured by the fall foliage but I usually get to see them lighting up the woods after leaf drop. This plant will get even larger than the hybrid described above and has a more horizontal growth habit. Seems to tolerate moist sites. Would be great in a naturalized border setting.

Next on my woody plant bloom list… Cornus mas. Maybe next month. Spring is coming.

PS image by Al Dolson

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