June 28, 2017

A Witch in Winter

Hamamelis vernalis - Vernal witchhazel

Mark Uchneat Photo | Hamamelis vernalis – Vernal witchhazel

Plants that do things when other plants are dormant can hold endless fascination for the gardener. Perhaps it’s because we have nothing else on which to focus our attention so that when the plant in question makes its move, we are mesmerized. Consider Hamamelis vernalis, vernal witchhazel or Ozark witchhazel. Native to North America in the Ozark plateau, this deciduous shrub blooms in the winter. Yes, as in February to March. The yellow and red blossoms will open if the temperatures warm up and then they persist through the cold, furling at night to avoid damage from freezing. As if having flowers in the waning days of winter wasn’t enough, the blooms are also touted as highly fragrant, which makes risking a few minutes in bone-chilling cold all the more worthwhile. If you are thinking of growing this one, keep in mind that it may grow slowly, but it grows big, up to 8 feet high and wide if it’s happy and even larger if it can. The other bit of good news: It’s hardy to Zone 4, making it suitable for a good chunk of the state.

Photographed by Mark Uchneat.

Hamamelis vernalis - Vernal witchhazel

Mark Uchneat Photo | Hamamelis vernalis – Vernal witchhazel