Almost autumn

I should not be so enthused seeing our native, common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana, below) flowering along a trail (on the WV/VA border) at 2900 hundred feet elevation this second week of September. While I’m happy to welcome cooler temperatures after a summer that is always too long and too hot, I’m in no rush for autumn to arrive since this necessarily means winter is soon to follow. This witch hazel is a harbinger that autumn is close, no matter my wishes.

But, I have a thing for witch hazels, with one or another flowering in the garden (at 600 feet elevation) from October into March. Yes, I watch closely in January as buds swell on Vernal (Hamamelis vernalis) and February flowering hybrid witch hazels (Hamamelis x intermedia), and rejoice at their first glimpse of color. While flowers in September or October join many other blooms, even the early flowering, common witch hazels are treasured.

I’ve started, stopped, then started again collecting late summer, early autumn flowering toad lilies (Trycirtis, above). There are clear distinctions between the coloring of flowers, but as the collection increases the differences from new to long established ones grown to the size of small shrubs become less obvious. There is always space to be found to add a prized toad lily, but when one is hardly different from the other I’m not inclined to dig out a variegated hummingbird mint (Agastache ‘Crazy Fortune’, below) to make room.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. C says:

    Dave –
    I love Witch Hazels, too. Thank you for sharing yours! One by one, all of my Hamamelis’ have galls on the leaves. What, if anything, should be done about this ‘infestation’?

    I always look forward to your posts on Toad Lilies. Ours are only in the bud stage at this writing. They historically bloom well after yours. Each year you give me hope for the days ahead, that ours will come forth with their delicate blooms.

    1. Dave says:

      Almost every leaf of my Vernal witch hazel has leaf galls, though there are no more than a very scattered few on other witch hazels. I’ve tried to pluck them off, but they become part of the leaf. There is no harm to the witch hazel, but their alternate host for the aphids that create the gall is birch that some harm can come to, and this is where they would be treated if you care to do so. I have two river birch in the swamp at the back edge of the garden, so I suppose I’ll have leaf galls regularly.

      Regarding toad lilies, I find the more sun the earlier the bloom, though there are early and late flowering varieties. With the same cultivar in part sun and in a shadier spot the shaded ones will be two weeks later.

  2. Linus says:

    Can the Agastache crazy fortune tolerate shade (like the toad lilies)?

    1. Dave says:

      I’m growing it in a half day sun, and haven’t grown any agastache in more shade. It seems like a plant that wants dry soil and sun.

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