October 28, 2013

Common witch hazel not common at all!

Hamamelis virginiana in a very urban Toronto setting


I think maybe 3 out of 100 people who walk by  a grouping of common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) in a downtown Toronto "parkette" (teeny tiny park/green space) would notice the flowers on display now. And even this number is optimistic. But as your intrepid shrub freak, I gladly took these pictures of this very late blooming shrub on display. It was kind of risky, standing on a subway air grate, with the pungent and distinctive smell of pot wafting from some locals enjoying the sunny and chilly afternoon (and eyeing me suspiciously as I admired the witch hazel). H. virginiana's flowers are not as fragrant, to me, as my "Arnold Promise" witch hazel in February and the scent of marijuana didn't help matters.


Ahh, downtown gardening at its finest!


Witch hazels really get you coming and going, blooming when very little else is (shrub-wise). If I had the space, I would fill it up with members of the Hamamelidaceae family.

H. virginiana is a native species to the Toronto area as well (and most of eastern North America) and, unfortunately, not common at all in most residential landscapes. It takes a more refined sense of horticultural taste to appreciate their understated beauty compared to a mass of "Knock Out" roses. 


Here's H. virginiana in bloom in Toronto, with November around the corner:



Hamamelis virginiana Witch hazel late fall blooms and seed capsules by garden muses-a Toronto gardening blog
Hamamelis virginiana Witch hazel late fall blooms and seed capsules



Hamamelis virginiana Witch hazel late fall blooms by garden muses-a Toronto gardening blog
Hamamelis virginiana Witch hazel late fall blooms



Hamamelis virginiana Witch hazel late fall blooms foliage by garden muses-a Toronto gardening blog
Hamamelis virginiana Witch hazel late fall blooms and foliage 



Hamamelis virginiana Witch hazel late fall flowers foliage against blue sky by garden muses-a Toronto gardening blog
Hamamelis virginiana Witch hazel late fall flowers
and foliage against a brilliant blue sky 






If this makes me a plant snob, I'm cool with that!




By Paul Jung, author of "garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog"
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