Mine is witch hazel.
Everything about this woodland gem is appealing -- the fragrant winter blooms, the funny flowers, the artistic woodsy look of the vase shaped branches. The fall color, so rich and bright. The crisply pleated clean leaves. No pests, no bugs, no bother, just beauty.
|Witch hazel has attractive pleated leaves.|
Except that I don't.
I am having a hard time even tolerating the witch hazels in my garden.
There are four types of Hamamelis and I have several:
- The native Hamamelis virginiana, which blooms in fall, is planted in the meadow behind my house.
- The spring, or Ozark, H. vernalis that blooms in late winter is in my garden by the driveway.
- The Chinese witch hazel, H. mollis, is on my list and I'll probably buy one this spring.
- There is also a Japanese witch hazel, H. japonica, and when crossed with the Chinese hamamelis, several hybrid named cultivars were developed. I have H. x intermedia 'Diane' in the garden by the driveway.
|Hybrid 'Diane' has tiny brick red blooms.|
Really tiny. The few that bloom on my plant look stunted.
None of the plant descriptions mention they are brittle, but mine fall apart in storms. They disintegrate, and actually split apart in order to lie down in the snow.
All of the plant descriptions and all of the witch hazels I have seen in other gardens bloom profusely and smell divine. Mine don't. They don't bloom much at all, and I have gone out on a winter day and sniffed and sniffed the tiny isolated flowers until my nose runs, without catching any scent at all.
|A blooming Chinese witch hazel at the nursery.|
I know it is more mature than mine, but how many years does it take?
|My hybrid witch hazel 'Diane' in full bloom in late winter.|
Embiggen this photo and you'll see those are mostly dead leaves, not flowers.
This plant has been growing in my garden for seven years now.
|H. x intermedia 'Diane' blooming in March at the nursery.|
Unlike mine, the flowers are profuse and colorful.
Witch hazels hold their leaves into winter and it is not attractive. The fall blooming H. virginiana holds onto leaves that hide all the little flowers when they open.
|This is Hamamelis virginiana out in the meadow in November.|
It is supposed to have tiny flowers behind its fall leaves
but not so's you'd notice.
|Frick and Frack in early fall. Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane' is on the left and a Hamamelis vernalis is on the right.|
Fall color is confused, and later in winter it gets worse.
|See? It's December and the same two witch hazels have managed to turn a hot mess into a brown wreck.|
And this goes on all winter. Snow cover does not improve the look.
Tell me again why I love these frustratingly unattractive plants.
Why do I grow them? Why am I going to buy more? Such as the Chinese witch hazel called 'Sweet Sunshine' which I know I must have this spring, and maybe another hybrid cultivar, 'Jelena', or a new introduction I saw that was described in the nursery catalog as "exhaustingly beautiful".
Yep, that sums it up.