Subtle fragrance is a calling card for winter walks, and many witch hazels have their name on that card.
We simply call her ‘Jelena.’
We say, “Did you see ‘Jelena’ in the parking lot?” She is beautiful decked out in her copper-colored fringe. A reliable bloomer and stunning. ‘Jelena’s full name is Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena.’ She’s a hybrid witch hazel whose parents, H. mollis and H. japonica, are of Asian origin. She has greeted visitors to Green Spring Gardens since 1996. However, fragrance is not her thing.
To beguile you with a sweet fragrance, can we entice you to walk west of the site’s Historic House? In the grove nestled between the house and the path to the ponds, you’ll find a fine collection of more than 20 witch hazels. The Chinese witch hazels are among the most fragrant, and here two yellow witch hazels won’t disappoint, H. mollis ‘Early Bright’ and H. mollis ‘Kort’s Yellow.’
Among the witch hazels, the strap-like petals and cup-like calyx both contribute to the color effect. The color ranges include yellows, oranges, reds and purples. The combinations, such as red blending to yellow found in H. intermedia ‘Feuerzauber’ and purple blending to cream found in H. intermedia ‘Strawberries and Cream,’ add intrigue and depth.
The impetus to develop a strong collection of witch hazels came with our successful application to the American Public Gardens Association’s North American Plant Collections Consortium. Through this project, 65 member gardens focus on a particular group of plants, each site providing a documented repository of plant types for their particular group. We specialize in witch hazels.
Our collection started with a gift of six witch hazels from the Chapel Square Garden Club in Annandale. We now have selections from all the Hamamelis species, including the native eastern witch hazel, H. virginiana, the Ozark witch hazel, H. vernalis, and many of their hybrids. Our collection of varieties of the well-known Asian hybrid, H. intermedia, will soon top 100 specimens.
For many of you that regularly strolling the garden in the winter months, you know how the witch hazel beckons, furling and unfurling its petals as the day warms and emitting a come hither fragrance. If it has been a while since you visited, let our witch hazels be the calling card that brings you back to explore.
More than 200 witch hazels beckon you to visit Green Spring Gardens during their peak bloom season, January through March. Green Spring is at 4603 Green Spring Road in Annandale.
Author Mary Olien is the site manager of Green Spring Gardens.