Hamamelis is one of the true glories of winter. Commonly known as Witch Hazel it’s so bright and will give colour and fragrance in our gardens in deepest winter. Delicate ribbon-like petals are suspended along bare branches like decorations from clusters of knotted buds. The glorious shades of yellow, orange and red give an explosion of colour and the flowers exude an exquisite scent – just what is needed to brighten any grey winter’s day!
Hamamelis are not difficult plants to grow but they do like well-drained soil. They should be planted in a full sun or semi-shaded position and not in an exposed windy location. No pruning as such is necessary apart from keeping the plants in shape.
Pallida (right) is one of the best known varieties of Hamamelis. This large shrub has bright green leaves up to 15cm (6″) long that turn yellow in autumn. Pallida produces large spidery flowers of an almost luminous acid yellow colour in the winter months, with a sweet perfume – walking in the garden on an early winters day, you will suddenly catch its delicate fragrance in the air.
If you are looking for something a little different consider a red flowering variety. Hamamelis X intermedia ‘Diane’ (left) is a delightful variation of the Hamamelis intermedia and is a particularly striking form of this winter flowering tree. Its gorgeous autumn foliage ranges through colours from yellow and orange to red. It has smaller flowers than Pallida but the richness of the red blooms contrast brightly with the naked branches – and this variety has an added bonus in that its foliage will provide a dazzling display of autumn colours.