Young Witch Hazel: Wildflower Wednesday September 2016

– Posted in: Native/Invasive

Walking up the hill to view the witch hazels in bloom was a favorite fall activity at our old house. For the past four years, I’ve thought we didn’t have any on our property. Our neighbor said he had some on his land, so I always hoped I might someday find one. Turns out there’s one growing in the Secret Garden. I pass it every time I go to the lower bench. So why did I never notice it until this year?

Hamamelis virginiana witch hazel flowers

Witch hazel flowers are very distinctive and I don’t confuse them with any other tree.

Maybe it’s because I bought three spring-blooming witch hazels* this year, and had more of a chance to study the leaf shape. I’m not very good at identifying trees, but I kept passing a certain sapling and thinking it was a witch hazel. Then I’d think, no, it can’t be; I’ve never seen it bloom. Must be something that just looks like a witch hazel. Less than a week ago, I walked past and noticed it blooming. It is a witch hazel!
fall witch hazel blooms

Yes! That is a witch hazel!

This may be its very first bloom year, as I can’t find any seed pods on it.
witch hazel seed pods

Here’s a picture of witch hazel seed pods that I took in 2009.

Typically you find last year’s seed pods exploding and shooting out their seeds around the same time this year’s flowers are blooming. However, this past winter and early spring were anything but typical. Still, this is a pretty skinny witch hazel, so it’s quite possible it never bloomed before. I will have to check this time next year to see if I find seed pods.

Looking over my witch hazel pictures from previous years, I see that in the past, even if the leaves hadn’t dropped by the time the flowers bloomed, they had at least turned color. In general it seems we are a bit behind schedule compared to other autumns. The leaves haven’t turned color as much, the colchicums are blooming a bit later. Last weekend we missed our first frost by the skin of our teeth. It will be interesting to see how long it takes now. Generally by mid-October the majority of leaves have fallen, and I will be looking to see if that milestone is delayed as well.

*The spring-blooming witch hazels I have are not native to North America. They are a cross between two species: Hamamelis mollis (Chinese witch hazel) and Hamamelis japonica (Japanese witch hazel). The witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) growing wild in the Secret Garden is native to this part of North America.

Posted for Wildflower Wednesday, created by Gail of Clay and Limestone, to share wildflowers/native plants no matter where you garden in the blogosphere. “It doesn’t matter if we sometimes show the same plants. How they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most. It’s always the fourth Wednesday of the month!”

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

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.

~Philip Harnden in A Gardener’s Guide to Frost: Outwit the Weather and Extend the Spring and Fall Seasons

Comments on this entry are closed.

Kathy October 3, 2016, 8:42 am

I lost my young Witchhazel in a very bad winter … and now I think I’ve also lost one of my Spicebush in a very bad summer drought. Maybe I will replace her with another Witch Hazel! That’s a gardener for you … mourn … then, hmmm what can I plant instead?! I love Witch Hazel. The flowers are so interesting! Hey, I could plant a few at the lake, too! I’m so excited now – thank you!

Daniel Tyrrell October 2, 2016, 6:45 pm

Its funny how everyone has the same problem with the seasons and plant milestone.

Carol October 2, 2016, 10:31 am

Love when I find a plant I didn’t know I had. In my cases, it is usually a plant I forgot about, since I don’t have any wild areas in my garden…

Charlie@Seattle Trekker October 1, 2016, 2:00 pm

The flowers of the witch hazel are so unique and so interesting, eye candy for any gardener.

Pat Webster October 1, 2016, 10:29 am

I love witch hazels and planted several near the front door about 15 years ago. They bloom beautifully every fall and the trees/shrubs require almost no care at all — just a pruning every now and then to keep them from outgrowing the space.