Witch Hazel In Winter Gardens

Bare branches with red spidery flowers

Here’s a closer look at witch hazel (Hamamelis). Ancient lore accords these flowering shrubs medicinal, cultural and even religious value, but here I’m focusing on their decorative quality. In the UK, witch hazels drop their leaves in autumn, then produce colourful flowers that are particularly welcome in the winter garden.

Bare branches with orange flowers

The flowers appear to float, held up in the air on slender stems that would otherwise go unnoticed in deciduous plantings. The rusty orange one particularly attracted me. Rich purple calyces provide a beautiful contrast, and the colour palette just seems to get better as the older petals wither. 

Flowers with long petals on leafless branches

The yellow witch hazel’s thickly clustered petals made me think of ticker tape. Google’s definition includes:

  • denoting a parade or other celebratory event in which ticker tape or similar material is thrown from windows.

That’s just it. The plant is calling out to passing pollinators: “Let’s get this party started”.

The top picture was taken at Dunham Massey and the bottom two at Ness Botanic Gardens.

25 Replies to “Witch Hazel In Winter Gardens”

  1. What a strange, weird and wonderful flower! Witch hazel in a bottle is very familiar, but I had no idea the tree had such great flowers. They would be a burst of life in a wintery landscape.

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