It is a family tradition to walk up the hill and into the woods this time of year to seek out the witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) blossoms. This is a native shrub or small tree that prefers moist, acidic soil–which we have in abundance.
In some years, the witch hazel doesn't drop its leaves, making it more difficult to see the flowers.
This year we found many trees with the leaves already gone.
The flower-filled branches are enchanting
This is a plant that has romantic connotations for me. (Narcissus is another one.) I already told the story in a previous post, so I’ll just quote myself here:
The first autumn we lived here, my husband took me up in these woods. He was obviously looking for something, but I couldn’t figure out what. Finally, he stopped and said, “Look up.” There before us was a rather large witch hazel completely spangled with the feathery blossoms. I was enchanted. It looked like stars had fallen and gotten caught in the branches.
It’s been a long time in coming, but I think we finally have a witch hazel year equal to that memorable, almost mythic one. Honey, are you up for a walk?
In the end, this may be the most important thing about frost: Frost slows us down. In spring, it tempers our eagerness. In fall, it brings closure and rest. In our gotta-go world–where every nanosecond seems to count–slowness can be a great gift. So rather than see Jack Frost as an adversary, you could choose to greet him as a friend.
in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons