things and places for homes and gardens

This one is confused

Friday 24 October 2008 - Filed under Plants

About a month ago, I was watching one of the better, non-gimmicky gardening shows on TV, Gardener’s Diary, and someone out-plant-snobbed me. I turn my nose up at plenty of flowers, but when a plant addict talked about falling out of love with her witch hazels, and replacing them with something she considered more inspired, I started to worry. What if her opinions rub off on me, and I couldn’t stand my two fairly mature specimens anymore and have to rip them out?

It has happened plenty of times before, where something that once seemed like the bees knees no longer moves me. Woodwardia, I’m looking at you.

Woodwardia fimbriata (giant chain fern)

One of the two witch hazels I have is a common standard with yellow flowers way out back where I hardly see it. The other one, in a more prominent position, is Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena.’ Jelena should be special for its coppery flowers and especially good fall color. I was hoping for a good showing this year to chase the doubts out of my mind.

The fall colors were just okay. A little yellow on the leaves, and then the leaves started to drop, so it wasn’t an especially great year, but an adequate showing. That was my first clue that this one was going through some changes.

Fall color on Hamamelis 'jelena' (witch hazel)

Then, October 14th, this happened. Covered in yellow flowers. Not coppery, and not blooming in late winter. Blooming now, way ahead of schedule. Either Jelena reverted back to another variety, or this wasn’t ever labeled right in the first place.

Witch hazel (hamamelis)

I plant things with winter interest to get me through the cold months with things to look forward to, something to sustain me. It hardly counts when I have a premature flowering event in mid-October, when there’s plenty of other stuff happening. That’s the bad news. The silver lining I guess, is that I realize I still love it, with its vase shape and crooked branches, yellow flowers and all.

2008-10-24  »  megan

Talkback x 2

  1. Patricia
    24 October 2008 @ 2:16 pm

    “Witch Hazel” is the best name. I wonder if it’ll bloom twice this year. It probably means something good–like we’re going to get some decent snow!

  2. Karen
    24 October 2008 @ 3:41 pm

    Wow, it’s so weird when the plants get confused. I see plums and cherries trying to flower in fall sometimes and I worry about them. My witch hazel is acting normal but maybe you Portland folks have been having different weather than in Seattle. Not sure what my variety is but it has orangy flowers and amazing fall color. Most leaves are on the ground now, sadly. Hope yours figures out what it wants to be and do when it grows up!