Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Blossoms of Winter

'Arnold Promise' Witchhazel, www.fantasticplants.com

I'm happy to report that so far, Nashville has dodged today's weather bullet. We'll see what happens after it gets dark and the temperature drops a bit. It has been raining almost continually since about 3:30 this morning, but for most of that time it has been in liquid form and the ambient air temperature is a few degrees above freezing. I'm choosing to believe the forecast the says our temps are going to continue to rise a few degrees and that the city will not be a solid sheet of black ice come morning. We'll see.

Even with the gloomy weather, a bright spot emerged in the garden this morning. I noticed as I was leaving the house that Hamamelis 'Arnold Promise' was just about to burst into full bloom. The petals are still coiled, but it is obvious that with the first warmer day it will regale the garden and perfume the air with its golden yellow blossoms.

Witchhazels are fabulous for the fall, winter and early spring gardens. Depending on the species and cultivar, as well as the area of the country you live in, you might have witchhazels in flower anytime from October through March/April. Of the many varieties I have grown over the years, I keep coming back to 'Arnold Promise' as my favorite. The flowers are large, showy and appear consistently every year. Timing can vary depending on your climate, as early as February here in the mid-south and as late as early April in the northern reaches of its hardiness.

The thing I love the most is its bright, forsythia-yellow color. It seems to come during the grayest days of winter, when I need it most, to remind me that I only need hold on a few more weeks until the first warm days of spring will be here and life will come again to the garden. It makes the perfect understory accent for the garden in bright dappled shade or an excellent focal point where it can take advantage of morning sun and a little protection from the sun's harshest afternoon rays. If you can, site it where you can enjoy it as the rising or setting sun provides dramatic backlighting for its stunning floral display. It's sure to brighten your spirits on even the dreariest of winter days!

There are many other cultivars of witchhazel, too, and honestly, I've never met one I didn't like. The brilliant golds, buttery yellows, burning oranges and rustic burgundies all bring life to the garden at a time when we need it the most!


jodi said...

I LOVE hamamelis: I have 'Diane', and plan to add 'Arnold's Promise' this year. And maybe 'Jelena'. Mind you, mine won't be flowering for another two months or so, but they're early compared to most things in our garden.

Roses and Lilacs said...

The blooms look festive, like something from a child's party;) I don't see many in my area altho they are hardy. Perhaps it would do well in the open shade on the north side of my house.

Michelle said...

Oh that's lovely. My Sunset Western Garden Book says it will grow here, but it's not listed as deer tolerant, darn. The "Munch Bunch" is more limiting than climate around here.

Troy said...

I've not had much problem with deer on witchhazel. The sap has an astringent quality (you can buy it distilled, like rubbing alcohol, in the pharmacy) about it that I think may help keep the deer at bay. Anyone else have experience with this?

Phillip said...

I have 'Diane' but the blooms do not show up well (they look dried up) and the dead leaves cling on forever. I've been really disappointed with it. Yours is beautiful.