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Monday, October 22, 2012

When A Tree Blooms In Autumn

You've got to love it and make sure it's in your garden.

 That's exactly how I felt about Hamamelis virginiana when we met dozens of years ago.
The crepe paper blooms curl open in warm weather
 Truth be told, I can't remember when I planted my first tree, but, I always remember to look for the small spidery flowers sometime in mid-October. You have to get up close and personal to see them because the flowers often bloom before the leaves drop. It's really the only way to appreciate the unusual crepe papery flowers or to smell the flower's sweet honey fragrance.

It would love to be growing in moist well drained soil, but, at Clay and Limestone it's growing beneath the Dancing Tree and several taller oaks. The soil has been improved with compost and mulch, but, I still need to give it a couple of good gulps of water during our extended summer droughts. But, it must be happy, it manages to bloom every October.
Wildlife gardeners love witch hazel for its wildlife value. It's often the last blooming plant found in most woodlands (sometimes in a Middle Tennessee garden, too) and I treasure it for providing nectar and pollen to late visiting pollinators. Some moth caterpillars predate on it and the dispersed seeds are eaten by small rodents.

It really has wonderful qualities that would appeal to every gardener. It can put on a colorful fall show in shade. It's a delightful specimen plant for small gardens with spring ephemerals, native sedges, ferns and shade tolerant perennials planted at its feet.
I think that you will appreciate all of witch hazel's wonderful qualities, but, like me, grow it for its sweet blooms and their gentle fragrance.

xoxogail





PS.  It's Monday and you know the drill! If you want to have pollinators visit and live in your garden, you must never, ever, ever, ever use pesticides.


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. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.

18 comments:

  1. Oh, I must go look and see if mine is blooming. Hard to see with the leaves on it but I do love it.

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  2. I need one of those, dry shade is too much for them right? But there are areas that I can water it well in.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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    Replies
    1. Jen, dry shade works fine if you supplement occasionally with a deep watering.

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  3. I absolutely love this little beauty of a tree. I wish I had one.

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    Replies
    1. If I see seedlings or can pry away a suckering stem I can send you one.

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  4. I've thought about trying these, but have not been sure they would be able to handle our extreme conditions here on the prairie. After reading your lovely description, I may do a little more research....

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  5. Love this plant too...those crinkly yellow flowers are always so welcome this time of year...we have one growing behind our mailbox and our highway department just hacked it to pieces when they cleared brush along the side of the road, but I did some pruning of the damaged limbs and am hoping it will come back as it tends to sucker here in New England..

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    Replies
    1. Ellen, I hope it recovers. Sometimes I wish they would just put those hacked up canopy trees out of their/our misery!

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  6. I do love the surprise of these in the fall, but the only disappointment is the leaves can obscure the flowers. I have a beautiful x intermedia "Arnold's Promise" outside of the window by my drafting table and it makes my late January through February. Great under utilized plant with some nice fall color.

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  7. It sounds like a very useful tree, bringing scent to the garden at this time of year. I like your photo of the yellow flowers outlined against the blue sky.You must be having great gardening weather with a clear sky like that.

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  8. I think they're fascinating, but sadly, I don't have any in my garden either. Hmmmm, I'll have to think about this--especially when it's time to replace trees. I do love the blooms.

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  9. I planted a native one in the big wall garden. I will have to think of some special flowers to put at its feet once it grows bigger. We watered it all season as it was dry and it has some leaves so I am happy. We shall see what happens this spring.

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  10. I planted a very young Hamamelis virginiana and it's about three feet tall right now. Can't wait for it to get big enough to bloom!

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  11. This Hamamelis never fails to amaze me whenever i see it in posts. But I still haven't seen it in person. They look like artificially made!

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  12. I probably missed seeing them at my old house. I wonder if there are any in the woods around the new house?

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  13. This really is a wonderful plant, but it needs to be seen up close.

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  14. I love the flowers of the Hamamelis species, so delicate.

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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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