Lee Valley Tools    Gardening Newsletter
   Vol. 8, Issue 2
   February 2013
 
   Witch Hazels' Winter Hues
 
 
JanuaryJanuary blooms
A Chinese witch hazel shows its eye-popping January blooms
 
My experience with witch hazels (Hamamelis spp.) began early in my gardening career. On a chilly November day in eastern Ontario (zone 5A), I was introduced to a multi-stemmed, rounded, shrubby plant with cheerful, bright-yellow foliage. The yellow tone was magnified by what looked like countless tiny pieces of yellow ribbon randomly strewn along the branches. Closer inspection revealed these were actually the flower petals of the common witch hazel (H. virginiana) in full bloom. Since that day, my relationship with witch hazels has developed significantly. More than a decade later, I have acquainted myself with all five* species. Three of these are native to North America, and two are of Asian origin. All are deciduous and range in growth habit from spreading shrubs to small trees.

Common witch hazel is a bush that displays bright fall foliage and small blooms with spidery yellow petals. These blooms, which have a pungent scent, usually appear from October to December. Unfortunately, its fall foliage often hides the blooms, which are identical in color. Regardless, this is unquestionably the hardiest, most widely adaptable and most shade tolerant of all witch hazel species.

*Some sources mention six or seven.
 
 
             
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