I promise that there are no brooms or black cats in sight but there certainly are some spidery blooms.
So are you interested? .........are you ready to go on a witch hunt?...........come on then!
Enchanting Flower Power
By 11th November 2012 the clusters of flowers from one of the witch hazels in my garden - Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena' had just started to unfurl their magic. The flowers usually remain on the shrub for about 6 weeks and normally I have flowers from December right through until February on 'Jelena'.
|Hammelis x intermedia 'Jelena' macro|
|Hammelis x intermedia 'Jelena' macro|
Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena' was my first purchase almost 11 years ago and I must admit that I was shocked at the price. Let's just say that they are an investment as grafted or budded shrubs are always that bit more expensive.
After 11 years and now about 2 metres tall that investment is really showing it's magic in the garden.
Winter ProtectionThe flowers are frost resistant. The plant produces a sugar called hamamelose which has the same effect as antifreeze and stops the flowers from freezing. Just like the snowdrops I wrote about a few years ago Snowdrops - Natures Antifreeze.
|Witch hazel blooms under the snow|
If you already have a witch hazel in your garden you'll maybe never have noticed but the 4 spidery petals curl up more on cold nights to also protect themselves.
Even though the shrubs are hardy and in flower at this time of year it's easy to forget that a newly purchased plant will still need a little bit of protection with horticutural fleece if it's planted during the winter months. (Witch hazels are listed as being H5 - see the scottish hardiness ratings for further details).
|Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena' unscented flowers|
I have 4 different varieties of Hamamelis x intermedia in the garden 'Jelena', 'Pallida' and 'Diane'. I know.......that's only 3 of them.
I also have one called 'Orange Beauty' which I'm lead to believe is really 'Jelena'. I'm not so sure if the 'Orange Beauty' was labeled correctly as mine flowers later than Jelena and is very yellow.....nothing like Jelena. So for now I'm not so sure what my 4th witch hazel really is.
Caring for your witch hazel#1 Here in Scotland they need to be planted in full sun while in sunnier locations further south they might prefer a more dappled shade position.
#2 All you need is a sheltered spot with good well drained soil - preferably on the acidic side.
#3 It's best to plant it somewhere that it can been seen from indoors and as it matures you can cut a few branches to bring indoors and enjoy those lovely colours on your windowsill.
#4 Witch hazel 'Jelena' is quite vase like in appearance so needs quite a little bit of room to 'show off' those branches as it will eventually reach 3 metres tall.
In hindsight I wish I had left more room between Jelena and a dwarf fuji Cherry -Prunus incisa 'Kojo No Mai'. The Cherry hasn't flowered in 2 years and is on its last warning to start to flower..................or else!
Who knows.........Jelena may get a little more space in the future!
#6 As most witch hazels for sale are grafted or budded you might find that the odd shoot from the rootstock - Hamamelis virginiana will appear near the base of the plant. In all the years of growing Jelena I've only had to pull off a few suckers twice. (TIP: never cut off suckers but pull and tear them away from the rootstock - otherwise you'll just encourage more suckers to grow)
#7 Pruning is never drastic and if needed a little can be done in April. Prune the previous years growth back to two buds.
#10 Knock the snow off the branches using a bamboo cane. I discovered in the past week that even a few inches of snow can bend the branches right to the ground.
|branches almost touching the ground last weekend|
Sometimes the greatest plant discoveries are not too far of the beaten track and this was the case with Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena'.
|Witch hazel spidery clusters of flowers|
In amongst one of those thickets almost 50 years later Robert de Belder discovered 'Jelena' and named it after the Slovakian horticulturalist whom he had fallen in love with. You can read more more about the horticulturalist Jelena de Belder here. They later discovered Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane' and named it after their daughter. That same piece of land is now Kalmthout Arboretum which is renowned across Europe for its collection of Hamamelis.
|snowflakes on witch hazel blooms|
If you want to see mature witch hazels that have never been pruned then you'll need to head over to the Hamamelis Festival at Kalmthout Arboretum in Belgium - Hamamelisfeesten which takes place every year between mid January and the end of February.
February is probably the best time as more of the under story of snowdrops and hellebores will be in flower too. (free entry to RHS members)
Thanks for stopping by.
Interested in this topic? You might enjoy another article called: