Garden Wisdom

"The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature.."  -Alfred Austin



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Jeff, Gardener in Chief

Contrary to popular opinion, some people in the Hamptons enjoy getting their hands dirty. I'm a self-taught gardener in East Hampton, NY that enjoys sharing my gardening experiences and inspiration with others. Hope you enjoy my blog and galleries.

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« A Caffeinated Garden | Main | Roses Are Red — Just Not Here! »

Season of the Witch

More evergreen companions should help flowers pop better next year

If you want some midwinter color, try a witch hazel.   I have several species planted around the garden, but only my Chinese Witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis) is blooming right now.  It's usually the first to start blooming even during the coldest winters.

The blooms are bright yellow with a deep red calyx.  Besides it's vivid color, this witch hazel flower produces a delightful sweet fragrance.  I initially bought this deciduous shrub because it could grow in my partly shaded mixed border.  Its vibrant yellow fall foliage and these colorful winter blooms were just bonuses.

This shrub is now about 14 feet high.  However, while I get leaves on the top branches in summer,  the winter flowers are only  present on the middle and lower branches.  If anyone has an idea why, please share.

Neither this plant nor the popular astringent made from its bark and leaves are actually named after the black-hatted enchantress that flies on brooms. The Witch part comes from an the old English word "wice" that means pliable.  The Hazel part comes from American colonists who confused this shrub with the common Hazelnut.

Vivid flowers on bare branches

Inkberry branches set off color

So that I could enjoy the color and scent indoors, I snipped a few of the smaller blooming branches and stuck them in a vase with inkberry branches.  I like the way the dark evergreen leaves set off the blossoms.  Funny how a bewitching indoor floral display can inspire a new outdoor planting.


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Reader Comments (4)

Love your title! Mine is not blooming yet, but I'm wondering if I should try to force a few branches, your flower arrangement is beautiful. Brenda

February 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda


They force pretty easy. At Christmas, I brought a few bare branches indoors to add some drama to a pine and holly centerpiece. I was surprised a week later when they started blooming. Good luck.

I'll share the pictures of my other Witch Hazel species when they start to bloom. I think this should be just another week. Can't wait for the gorgeous bright yellow flowers of the 'Arnold Promise' Witch Hazel.


February 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeff, Gardener in Chief

One of my absolute favorite lovely. It seems the blooms are a bit sporadic on the ones I see around town too...but the splendid fall coloring is always wonderful!

February 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterscottweberpdx

Thanks for your comment. Most of my Witch Hazels are mixed into the borders away from the house. I think I need to add one or more near the house so I can appreciate their color and fragrance more.

February 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJeff, Gardener in Chief

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