How do plants get their names? Sometimes it’s obvious. The plant takes its name from the discoverer, the first person to bring it to the attention of (western) science. Or its name evolves as a descriptor used by people for whom it had a value or meaning. And sometimes the stories that surround the naming of a plant become overlain with others and the actual origins become misty with time.
So it is with witch hazel (Hamamelis). Some say that witch hazel was named as such by early settlers in
Getting back to plant names, it’s easy to see where breeders are coming from when they give new varieties names. Take Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Sunburst’. This variety produces large, pale yellow flowers in mid-late winter, just when they’re most welcome. Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ produces flowers in clusters at the same time, as does ‘Vesna’. Generally, yellow flowers are most fragrant in witch hazel, but Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’ is unlikely to disappoint on this or any other point. ‘Diane’, as well as producing intense red blooms which contrast fabulously with the bare branches of the plant, also delivers stunning autumn colour as the hazel-like leaves turn orange and purple.
Witch hazel is as versatile as it is beautiful. Put it at the back of a wide border to add height, as well as winter and autumn colour from flowers and foliage. It’s great as a specimen plant, or planted in groups. They’re fully hardy and tolerate a range of typically encountered garden soils. They’re happy over chalk if the soil is deep. Full sun or partial shade is fine, provided there is some protection from winds. Maintenance is minimal, just a tidy up with the pruners in late winter to keep the shape you want.
Material Courtesy of www.the-hta.org