Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Witchhazel, a Blooming Fall Treat.

Just when you thought the last flower had bloomed… along comes Witchhazel. The picture here is of Hamamelis virginiana, Common Witchhazel growing on a mountain top in central Pennsylvania. It sure lights up the woods on a fall day. It is not that the bloom is extremely large… but the fact that nothing else is blooming makes it special.

I don’t see Common Witchhazel in too many nursery/garden centers but what you will find are Hamamelis x intermida hybrids. The most common is 'Arnold Promise' and for good reason. It produces beautiful ,strap-like, yellow flowers in mid-winter and that certainly gets your attention….especially if there is some snow to provide a contrast. Nothing like bloom mid January to get your juices flowing.

There are red flowering hybrids, too. I have observed the cultivar 'Jelena' for several years and its’ coppery colored red flowers are very distinct. It also blooms in early to mid winter.

There is a nice specimen of 'Arnold Promise' planted along the walk way leading to the Bucks County Extension office. It is part of our fledgling Almshouse Arboretum. Penn State Master Gardeners have planted more than sixty trees on the grounds of Neshaminy Manor Center since 2007. Many of these plants were provided by Tree Vitalize , a private-public program with the goal of enhancing tree canopy in Pennsylvania.

In fact, just a week ago a hardy crew of Penn State Master Gardeners planted nine more trees. (Normally I assist them but I was in the woods looking at Witchhazels.

This reminds me that it is still a great time to plant trees and shrubs. We have planted about half of the Almshouse Arboretum trees in the fall with a 100% success rate. So, check out your local garden center and make a deal on good quality trees and shrubs.