At last …..

As expected after only a few mild afternoons, spidery blooms of witch hazels that were delayed by cold in recent weeks have unfolded. In two days the witch hazels changed from the barest hint to full color, with little delay between mid and late winter flowering hybrids. Finally.

Arnold Promise on a gloomy late February afternoon.

Of course, witch hazels were planted for flowers in February, not the last few days but two weeks earlier when the gardener is most impatient for spring’s arrival. Delayed blooms this winter are a minor disappointment, but the gardener must regularly cope with one failing or another. Most are hardly worth a mention, and I expect many more winters when witch hazels bring joyful blooms when little else is flowering.

Jelena witch hazel looking more ted than copper colored on a rainy afternoon.

A minor mystery has been figured out, and how could I have been clueless for so long? A red flowered ‘Diane’ (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’) flowered poorly in an increasingly shaded spot, so it was moved a few years ago. In autumn it flowered, which at the time I attributed to some odd weather phenomenon, and I didn’t think much of it. Then it flowered again the next autumn, and now I questioned, why?

And while there are many questions beyond my comprehension, this was easily answered. Hybrid witch hazels are often grafted onto the roots of our native, common witch hazel (the autumn flowering Hamamelis virginiana, above). After the graft is successful, stems of the host, common witch hazel are removed. The newly grafted shrub is watched, and growth from below the graft is removed. On my ‘Diane’, this was not done, so two types of witch hazel grow on one shrub.

‘Diane’ witch hazel

While somewhat of a novelty, eventually the common witch hazel is likely to overwhelm ‘Diane’ (above). So, another minor project is in the works. The stems of the common witch hazel will be pruned out, and since this will leave a misshappen ‘Diane’, it will be pruned and moved to a less prominent location. I will probably plant another ‘Diane’ to replace it, joining several cultivars of autumn and early winter witch hazels thst will soon be planted.

With chilly temperatures through February, the Vernal witch hazel continues with flowers that started the third week of January.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Ann Mackay says:

    These are lovely – ‘Diane’ is spectacular!

    1. Dave says:

      There are two each of Diane and Arnold Promise in the garden. One of each has scattered flowers, while the other is densely flowered. Diane flowers more sparsely than Arnold, but both are excellent witch hazels.

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