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Add Winter Interest with Native Witchhazel

January 14, 2009

Hamamelis vernalis Hamamelis vernalis

I’ve been a Nest In Style admirer for a couple of months now, so I was more than flattered when Jayme asked me to write a guest post. We share a love for gardening, modern style, and native plants … You know, all the good things in life.

Inside my home, I like to choose furniture and other pieces that are eco-friendly, with clean, modern lines and a bit of personality. Outside, I try to choose ornamental plants with the same qualities. One of my favorites, Witchhazel (Hamamelis), seems to fit the bill perfectly.

There are several varieties of Witchhazel, but they all share common characteristics: Graceful, multistem habit; brilliant fall color; smooth bark; and fragrant, strappy flowers. For our own garden, we chose Vernal Witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis), native to gravelly stream banks of the Southeastern U.S., but hardy in zones 4 to 8. It does well in the clay soil here in central Maryland, and seems to thrive without a great deal of care and attention.

Our Witchhazel is already starting to flower, and is by far the earliest-blooming plant in our garden. (You can see the petals beginning to emerge in the photos above … Next year, we’ll have to remember to brush off the leaves once they’re dry and crispy so the flowers can have the spotlight all to themselves.) Even though spring is a long way off, this is a welcome reminder of what’s to come. Every gardener needs an elegant dose of inspiration during the cold, dark days of winter.

Looking for a Hamamelis for your own garden? Here in Maryland, Vernal Witchhazel is the most difficult to find. In fact, we had to go all the way to suburban Philadelphia to purchase ours. Other varieties may be more readily available, and can be just as lovely in the landscape:

  • Common Witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) — Blooms October-December, Native to the Eastern U.S.
  • Chinese Witchhazel (Hamamelis mollis) — Blooms February-March, Native to Central China
  • Hamamelis x intermedia — Hybrids between H. mollis and H. japonica, including ‘Arnold Promise’ and ‘Jelena’

Want to spy on other plants in our garden? I post photos on Flickr and random stories on my blog.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jared permalink
    January 14, 2009 5:24 am

    Nice post, and a reminder to me to look into getting a witch hazel for my yard. Thanks!

  2. January 14, 2009 9:40 am

    Thanks for the nice comments Jared! I saw that you “picked” this article in I will be sure to let Jess know that she’s inspired your choice of plants. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

    Best, Jayme

  3. March 6, 2010 2:33 pm

    zanvye Excellent article, I will take note. Many thanks for the story!


  1. Hi, I’m Jessica, and I’m a native plant nerd … «

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