February 05, 2016

"Arnold Promise" witch hazel blooms in my Toronto garden

This Toronto witch hazel just keeps on blooming and blooming and....


Hamamelis x intermedia "Old Faithful". How does that sound for a new witch hazel cultivar? Maybe too sexy for horticultural marketing purposes (I mean, we're not selling a version of that blue pill)  but it does describe the blooming regularity of my "Arnold Promise" witch hazel in our backyard since we first planted it around 15 odd years ago.

The 2015-2016 winter in Toronto, so far, has been extremely mild with very little snowfall. I guess this makes up for the bone-crushing cold and wind chills we experienced the past two previous winters. The "spidery" yellow blooms shown here emerged last December and although we've had some very cold days in the minus 15 Celsius or 5 Fahrenheit range, the cold did not persist. Witch hazel flowers are tough anyway, curling up to protect themselves when temperatures drop.


Hamamelis x intermedia Arnold Promise witch hazel blooms by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Hamamelis x intermedia "Arnold Promise"
 witch hazel blooms 



"Arnold Promise" is a hybrid cultivar of witch hazels H. japonica and H. mollis. Other cultivars you might see at your local garden center include "Jelena", "Pallida" and "Diane". Do yourself a favour: instead buying yet another hydrangea, lilac, or rhodo, consider plunking this sad looking shrub in your cart. It won't be flowering in May (and nothing sells faster than a plant that's flowering) but rise above the mundane, common and ubiquitous and buy a witch hazel. 

You can do it!

If you prefer a native, the common witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) blooms reliably in late fall instead.


Arnold Promise witchhazel buds and blooms by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Arnold Promise"
 witchhazel buds and blooms 


Arnold Promise witch hazel blooms by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Arnold Promise" witch hazel blooms


Arnold Promise witch hazel in my Toronto garden by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
"Arnold Promise" witch hazel
 in my Toronto garden 


Not a great picture above given the time of year and low-rise apartment to the east of us but hopefully you can make out the witch hazel's outline and small yellow flowers. The size is around 10 feet high and 10 feet wide so it does require a bit of space. There are tree forms if you don't like the vase shape but expect to pay "a bit more" 

Last season's leaves stay on all winter, which is a little unusual. In case you're wondering, the bottom row of dormant grasses is made up of Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra). I like staring at this combination in the summer. In winter, not so much.



Arnold Promise witchhazel blooms by garden muses-not another Toronto gardening blog
Arnold Promise witchhazel blooms 
  
Of all the shrubs I've planted since inheriting the backyard, this witch hazel has outperformed them all. It gets morning and noon time full sun, average soil and regular watering. Hardy to zone 5, it has zero pests, excellent autumn foliage and reliable late winter blooms.

Oh, by the way, there's a Fothergilla I want to show you...