Witch hazels offer surprise color

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane'

If it hadn't been so warm and I hadn't been exploring my garden the other day, I would have probably missed them. Witch hazels are winter-blooming, which usually means some time in early March here in the Midwest. But I can't say I've ever seen them so fully open in early February.

I had a hard time getting good photos of the variety called 'Diane' because she is surrounded by my special slap-dash brand of deer protection: wire fencing combined with netting.

Meanwhile, in the front yard just south of a crabapple, Hamamelis vernalis is loaded with golden yellow flowers, the browned leaves acting as spoilsports and doing their best to detract from the flowers' beauty.

This type of witch hazel is known for this behavior, and it's even suggested you remove the leaves before bloom so that the flowers stand out better. (As if)

I prefer to get photos and look at them when I really want to get a good look. But it's worth sending your nose outdoors to check them out. They have a great, spicy fragrance.

Hamamelis vernalis flower close-up

Why the deer prefer the hybrid 'Diane' to the native species is anyone's guess. Perhaps I just have deer with exotic tastes.

If this weather remains steady, it could be a good year for Hydrangea--even the type that don't bloom on new wood. I've heard reports of snowdrops blooming already, and my Hellebores have halted development, but still are more colorful than I remember at this time of year. I found an interesting site about them here.


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