February 17, 2012

When Arnold (Promise) met Jelena

Two Toronto witch hazels in love

Hamamelis x intermedia arnold promise witch hazel blooms in clusters by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
"Arnold Promise" witch hazel blooms

Inspired by fellow Toronto blogger Barry's recent post called "Jelena" and helped by abnormally warm temperatures,  I had to post some photos of my favourite shrub in its current glory. My "Arnold Promise" witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia "Arnold Promise") is about 15 years old and is a blooming machine every February and March. This spring (well, it feels like spring in mid-February when it shouldn't) the blooms came earlier and I was in the back today strangely with no snow. I hope you enjoy the show!

Hamamelis x intermedia Arnold Promise witch hazel flower in bloom detail by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
Hamamelis x intermedia "Arnold Promise" 
witch hazel blooms in detail

Such strange looking flowers! The yellow for this cultivar, to me, is very clean and bright and stands out against the reddish sepals. "Arnold Promise" doesn't shed its leaves in the fall so, for some, the look isn't as "clean" as one might desire. (This doesn't bother me at all.) Last year's leaves will drop as the new leaves open up.

Hamamelis x intermedia Arnold Promise witch hazel blooms in clusters by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
More "Arnold Promise" witch hazel flower clusters

Here's a picture with the blooms displayed horizontally along a branch. When there's nothing else blooming right now, this is such a treat. Imagine the leaves aren't there if they bother you!

Arnold Promise Hamamelis x intermedia witch hazel shrub by garden muses: a Toronto gardening blog
My beloved witch hazel in its spring glory--
the rest of the garden, not as much

The shrub is about 8' high and 10' wide so you need to give witch hazels room. My specimen gets about 6 hours of direct sun from morning to mid-afternoon and grows in amended soil. It prefers richer soil that's slightly moist but isn't too demanding. Do not, I repeat, do not prune this guy into a meatball, trapezoid or wedge.  Zero pest and disease issues (besides the flipping squirrels which nip off a few clusters for reasons only known to their black hearts.)

What's not to love? Get one in the ground this year!


  1. Mmmm, love witch hazels. I bought Arnie (as I like to call him) a few years ago, love him, really stands out during those grey winter days. Then also inspired by Barry, 2 years ago, I bought Magic Fire, a reddy/orange. Last year was the first year to flower, and it is so pretty.

  2. Looks like you have the start of a great witch hazel collection. Yeah, when you think about it, he does look more like an Arnie! Thanks for dropping by.

  3. Hi paul,

    I think a witch hazel collection is the way to go. I can't think why I stopped at one? I saw one a few years back described as amethyst in colour, very expensive at the time. I think a friend of mine bought one of these, it will be interesting to see how it performs.

  4. Hi Barry,

    Hamamelis is a genus that definitely deserves collecting, space permitting. Even mixing different species like virginiana, mollis along with x intermedia would be fantastic.

    Amethyst-coloured? Intriguing...

    Appreciate your comment!