Bewitched by Hamamelis

Midwinter is undoubtedly the bleakest time of year, with several months ahead of us before the gentle warmth of spring encourages shoots to push their way through the soil.  At this time, I am always completely transfixed by the spidery, sweetly scented flowers of the Witch Hazel (Hamamelis), sparkling like precious jewels from the winter border.  It mystifies me how the seemingly delicate flowers manage to survive the harsh weather, sometimes crystalised by frosted or even covered in snow, enduring these winter conditions.  It seems that nature is offering us hope at this desolate point in the year, reminding us that winter is also a beautiful time to be in the garden. 

Maybe you are familiar with sulphur-yellow of Hamamelis mollis and yet there is so much more to discover.  H. x intermedia ‘Jelena’ is a wonderful dusky-orange and the sultry H. x intermedia ‘Diane’ is a mouth-watering deep red, both part of a large range of incredible colours that will boost the winter garden.

If you would like to discover more about Hamamelis I can thoroughly recommend a winter visit to see one of the three national collections, grown by Chris Lane in Kent.  He opens his fields (yes, I do mean fields containing over 500 shrubs), over a couple of weekends in late January and early February.  Standing amongst row upon row of these highly fragrant shrubs is something to experience and I can guarantee that you will fall in love with these winter beauties. 

The 2024 open days are listed on the website -

Annie Guilfoyle