Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Monday, November 21, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday~A Thanksgiving Week Long Celebration



Hamamelis virginiana
Welcome to Clay and Limestone and the Thanksgiving week long celebration of wildflowers.

All across America families and friends are making plans to gather for Thanksgiving dinner. It's our annual celebration of the "First Thanksgiving" when colonists celebrated arriving safely in the New World. In my house, before the feasting begins, we all take turns sharing our feelings of gratitude. This year, I am especially grateful for the health and well being of my family; for loving and supportive friends; for rain that finally fell in Middle Tennessee; and, for wildflowers that bloomed no matter how horrid the weather has been.

Please join me any time this week to share and celebrate the wonderful wildflowers that live and thrive in your gardens. Remember, it doesn't matter if they are in bloom or not. Please leave a comment and add your name to Mr Linky so others can pop over to see your Wildflower Wednesday post.


unfurled crepe papery petals on a very warm November afternoon. 
Today, I celebrate Hamamelis virginiana,  a fall flowering understory tree/shrub with sweetly fragrant small yellow flowers.  Witch hazel, as it is also known, is native to woodlands, forest margins and stream banks in eastern North America (including  OK and TX)  where it's found growing in moist well drained soil in sunny to partial shade conditions.  It's an open,  multi stemmed tree with irregular branching that is known to form colonies. 

I love the  textured deep green leaves that turn a golden yellow in the fall.  Sometimes the flowers bloom before the leaves drop and the stem-hugging clusters of bright yellow flowers are hidden.
Pollinator visiting the last blooms of the year




But, that gives me an opportunity to get a close look at each flower and at any pollinators who happen to stop by for a bit of nectar.  Hamamelis is also known to attract the robin, junco, titmouse and cardinal.  I love having a tree with pretty flowers, a sweet scent and that has good wildlife value.
stem-hugging clusters of bright yellow flowers, each with four crinkly, ribbon-shaped petals

Except for a few native ex-aster that might have survived the recent killing frost, witch hazel is probably the last blooming plant found in most woodlands.  I treasure it for providing one last stop for nectar gathering pollinators; its colorful fall show; the sweet blooms; its gentle fragrance; clay soil tolerance; and, that it seems deer proof!  It's a wonderful specimen plant, but, suckers must be removed or it will form a colony.  Because it colonizes, it does make a wonderful screening plant or hedge. Spring ephemerals, native sedges, ferns and shade tolerant perennials are great companions.

fruit and exploded seed capsule
Ooh, ooh, ooh~One more cool factoid!  The seeds are expelled with a loud pop that sends them yards away from the parent plant.  I've been looking for offspring but, so far none.  The seeds must be tasty to  my garden critters.

gailxxoo



Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone."

21 comments:

  1. Ah, lovely photos, as always. I'm thankful for the reminder that I need to add some witch hazel to my garden. ;-)

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  2. Hi Gail, those photos are magical and make me think of the fall blooming hazels in the woods up North. Here in NC it's lovely to see the sleepy pollinators cuddling up to the remaining blooms.

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  3. I have a small witch hazel planted about 4 years ago. I've never seen it bloom, though I'm tempted to go out and check right now. Perhaps it's too young? It's one of the last trees to hold its leaves. It's a lovely tree with a quirky branching pattern.

    Unfortunately, the herd of deer seemed to like munching it during their regular trips (several times a day) through the yard. But now that it's protected by a deer fence it has taken off.

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  4. Gail, I love this plant. It can (and often does) have vibrant yellow fall color that puts on quite a display. It makes a wonderful native alternative to crape myrtle for a small to medium sized (multi-stem) tree that can be underplanted with wildflowers and or shade perennials. The mature trunks can take on a silvery cast for added interest. It is often overlooked as a landscape plant but should be used more often.

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  5. Beautiful! I love the warm against the cool background.

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  6. I admire witch hazel in other gardens, and now in yours. The shot of the yellow flowers against the blue background is delicious! Happy Thanksgiving week to you and yours.

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  7. This is one of my favourite shrubs. We had an orange/red cultivar at one time but it gave up the ghost....
    Enjoy your Thanksgiving celebrations, Gail.

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  8. HAPPY THANKSGIVING to you & yours. Enjoy all the time with family & friends.

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  9. I do love this native and its cousins which bloom in the spring. Mine is blooming as well and I will go check to see if anything is taking advantage or its open blooms. It is warm today so perhaps some opportunist is taking advantage of these flowers.

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  10. This is a beauty. Love seeing thse bright yellow blooms on a gloomy ole day. Happy WFW.

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  11. Like your wildflower Thanksgiving week celebration. Hope you, your loved ones, your pets, your friends, your pollinators... and your native plants have a great week.

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  12. Excellent timing to thank our wildflowers for blooming so freely.~~Dee

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  13. Gail, That second photo is absolutely stunning! Maybe one day I'll get around to planting a witch hazel here, but for now I'm going to enjoy your lovely specimen. I've never heard about the seeds popping--how cool!

    I hope to join in sometime this week for WW. Wishing you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving!

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  14. Wonderful plant that is on my want list...just has everything!!

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  15. I love the witchhazels, and the fact they bloom in during the bleakest of seasons. I'm always envious when I see them growing in other gardens. I so wish they were native here!

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  16. I wish I had a bigger garden so I could grow this. Beautiful! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Gail. Hugs.

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  17. Those flowers are so beautiful as if they are not natural but just manually placed there by someone. I joined Wildflower Wednesday for the first time. Thank you for hosting.

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  18. Adore your witch hazel, Gail ... (so wanting ... and must). Happy Thanksgiving!

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  19. I love wildflowers. Your post is full of starry starry wildflowers. Happy Thanksgiving!

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  20. Sadly witch hazel isn't suited to my garden, but I do enjoy seeing it in other gardens over the winter.

    I have my final wildflower installment from our American roadtrip for you!

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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  21. I have got to get me one of those. :) I have a witch hazel that's a Jelena child but do not have any native witch hazels. They're too appealing not to try.

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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