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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Vernal Witchhazel

I always think of my mother when ever I see the vernal witchhazels blooming in my garden.
Vernal witchhazels bloom in the winter of life and that is how it was with my mother. That may sound odd to you, but, my mother was a late bloomer. She bloomed in the winter of her life. In fact, it wasn't until she sold her house and moved into a retirement community that she really blossomed. It seemed perfectly natural that a memory tree for her would be Hamamelis vernalis. It is blooming beautifully right now.

 This is from the post I wrote when I planted it.
I planted it for my Mother
the spring she passed away.
For remembrance,
For honoring,
and because planting a witch hazel was
a funny nod to our complicated and loving relationship.

Hamamelis vernalis  blossoms in the winter
When we have just about given up hope
that spring will ever arrive.

On warm days
the crepe paper streamer petals unfurl and
its sweet scent drifts about.

Believe me when I tell you this~
I know that my mother is somewhere laughing
that her remembrance tree is a witchhazel.


I'm smiling thinking about her...and I'll be smiling tomorrow when I walk the garden and see those spidery blooms unfurled on a warm winter day.
In case you aren't familiar with this lovely small tree that is native to Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri and Arkansas, its flowers are an unusual orange/yellow/reddish color with four crepe paper streaming petals that unfurl as the day warms and furl back up when the temperature drops. This is a marvelous adaptive behavior that insures that the spidery blooms will survive the fluctuating winter weather and be in bloom for almost two months. A plant like that needs to be in every garden!

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.


  1. What a lovely post, Gail. Thanks for sharing these memories.

    We have an Ozark witch hazel in front of our house in Asheville, surprisingly planted by the landscaper for the previous owner, who wasn’t a gardener but wanted “native” plants.,

  2. Witch hazels are so unique, and that one is really special--because of its lovely appearance and because of its special meaning for you. xxoo

    1. It really is special. If I move from here, I will take a cutting.

  3. Such a sweet remembrance. The witches are nigh.

  4. What a sweet memory plant for your dear mother, Gail. Being in the garden almost always reminds me of my own mother, who passed on her love of gardening to me.

  5. Loved our witch hazels in New Hampshire, that bloomed in the fall up there. I wonder if there is a variety that’s hardy enough for MN?

    1. Hamamelis virginiana is hardy in Minnesota https://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/shrub/witch-hazel

  6. When do the seeds pop? The only witch hazel here has yellow flowers and was here before we arrived. I think of you and my short relationship with frost weed. This would have been a good year to have one!

    1. Becky, I am not sure, but once you see the pod you could put a small paper bag on it to capture the expelled seeds.

  7. I have the H. virginiana, but not this one. A lovely remembrance for your mother.


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson