The fairest thing growing in the Fairegarden at the moment is Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’. No contest.Here she is a year after planting, February 24, 2004. She was mail ordered from Wayside Gardens and her cost was more than had ever been paid for a plant in any of my gardens. In ignorance of her growing habit a leader was selected and staked. The error of this was seen soon after and the stake was removed to allow for the looser branching that is natural for these small trees/shrubs.Articles had been torn from magazines singing the praises of the witch hazels. But the photos did not look like the trees which were familiar. At our northeast Tennessee house, the one before we moved to Texas, the native Hamamelis virginiana was growing in the woods around the neighborhood. These were mature thirty foot trees that bloomed in early winter with yellow fragrant spidery flowers. The trees featured in the glossies were more shrub sized with varying flower colors. Breeding had been done between H. japonica and H. mollis to produce a garden worthy smaller tree with winter bloom and sweet scent that would be a perfect addition to the new shrub border. By the next year, Diane had grown a little, but the Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Gold Mop’ hedgelings had shot up rapidly. Note the size of them from 2004 to 2005. This photo was taken March 19, 2005 and shows the design plan, orange Diane with the early daffodil Narcissus pseudonarcissus.Jumping ahead to February 23, 2007, 2006 photos from January to June were lost in space when the computer crashed, Diane has grown some more and the Gold Mops have grown large enough that the privet hedge they were planted to replace has been cut down and dug out. That was a giant step for gardenerkind and paved the way for the veggie garden to be created behind.Last year, 2008 shows the devastation wreaked from the April freeze of 2007, only two blooms. Flowers form on the previous year’s growth and that growth produced only a couple of stems. We were lucky to have those, lucky that the tree was not killed like the four Japanese maples that were lost due to that catastrophic cold spell. Time traveling to present day finds Diane still rather small, especially compared to the Gold Mops, which were supposed to mature to five feet tall and wide. Diane is over six feet tall, not so small really, but not very voluptuous. The evergreen’s width is right on, but all are taller than five feet and a few are much taller. It just goes to show that plant tags are merely suggestions or averages about the size of shrubs.
A strange thing happened with the blooms of Diane this year, the earliest among them opened yellow. It has been much colder this winter, possibly that had an effect on them. The later flowers to unfurl have been the delightful reddish orange of the petals of year’s past. Some opened darker and have faded a bit. All are enchanting and smell like honey. Strolling along the path in front of the shrub border, the aroma swirls in the breeze, make that gale force winds, to bring a smile to the gardener’s lips.Below are some facts from the good folk at Missouri Botanical Garden:
Common Name: witch hazel
Zone: 5 to 9
Plant Type: Deciduous shrub
Native Range: None
Height: 8 to 12 feet
Spread: 10 to 15 feet
Bloom Time: January – March Bloom Data
Bloom Color: Red to copper-red
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best flowering is in full sun. Prefers moist, acidic, organically rich soils. Promptly remove root suckers to prevent colonial spread. Prune in spring after flowering to control shape and size.
Hamamelis x intermedia hybrids are crosses between Japanese witch hazel (H. japonica) and Chinese witch hazel (H. mollis). These are medium to large deciduous shrubs that typically grow 12-20’ tall and are particularly noted for their mid to late winter flowers which appear before the foliage emerges. ‘Diane’ is a red-flowered form with spreading branches. It typically grows to 8-12’ tall and to 10-15’ wide over 10 years. It is noted for its winter-blooming, mildly fragrant, red to copper-red flowers (to 1” long), each having four, narrow, ribbon-like, crinkly petals. Axillary clusters of these flowers bloom along the stems from late January to March. Broad-oval green leaves (to 6” long) turn attractive shades of yellow, orange and red in fall.
No serious insect or disease problems. Occasional insect galls (small wasps) appear on the foliage. Japanese beetles may chew on the leaves in some areas.
Shrub borders, woodland gardens. Screen or tall hedge. Good specimen due to late winter flowers, attractive summer foliage and fall color.
But wait, there is a newcomer in the midst!
An anniversary gift to celebrate 35 years of wedded bliss, selected by offspring Brokenbeat and financed by, well, The Financier on a previous trip to Asheville, North Carolina is Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’. This promises to be an exciting match up between Diane and Arnold. We will keep you, gentle readers, abreast of any developments.
In the long shot above, a pathetic attempt was made to draw a circle around Diane in the background to show the placement of the two witch hazels. They are within shouting distance of each other. Or poetry reciting distance.