Thus Spake Zuska

Witch Hazel at the Morris Arboretum

A week or so ago I went for a walk at the Morris Arboretum on a day with lovely weather, when it had warmed up just enough to make a winter walk delightful. I came around a bend in the path and encountered a cloudy vision of yellow – a witch hazel in full bloom.

i-34130b781d44c5fbf487dfe7934d2cba-M A witch hazel.jpg

It’s not the best picture, but mind you I took it with my cell phone. This closeup didn’t come out too bad:

i-007f9a38f00957dec56cde41a6e78d19-M A ultra closeup.jpg

Isn’t that pretty? Witch hazel blossoms are such amazing things.

And yet -why, why, why, I wondered, why is the Morris Arboretum’s witch hazel in such a glory of bloom, while the best my witch hazel can do is produce a few straggly blossoms in a sea of bare branches?

i-ef092cd315c5f4eaf09e33f7c263dedf-my witch hazel 1 [320x200].JPG

Granted I am no professional gardener. Clearly my witch hazel is not as beautifully pruned. But is it too much to hope that maybe next year, I could get blooms on most of the branches instead of just a few?

Note those wooden stakes around the witch hazel in the first photo. I am going to have to add something like that to my shrub soon, to keep the deer from rubbing their antlers on it. The other day Mr. Zuska and I saw SEVEN of them waltzing their way through our backyard.

I bought the witch hazel at one of the Morris Arboretum annual plant sales, for two reasons. One, it is about the only thing that will bloom at this time of year, and it’s so nice to have something to bloom when everything is so bare. (That is, if it blooms!) And two, because it is a native plant, although the particular cultivar I have may or may not be close to the properties of the true native Hamamelis virginiana. In any case, according to the PA Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources, it has “low wildlife value”. Oh well. I still want it to bloom. Maybe next year.

Just thinking about past MA plant sales got me all excited, and I went browsing on their website to get info about this year’s. Sadly, there is no Morris Arboretum plant sale this year, due to construction of a new Horticultural Center – plant sales resume next year. Now where am I going to go dump all my plant cash? I know! On that native plant landscaping plan I want from Yellow Springs Farm!

Here’s hoping that if you have a witch hazel, it is blooming gloriously for you.

Comments

  1. #1 DrA
    February 27, 2009

    >>But is it too much to hope that maybe next year, I could get blooms on most of the branches instead of just a few?

    One of the function of plants and gardens is to provide humility and try one’s patience. Try not caring one way or the other. Some plants respond well to indifference.

  2. #2 chezjake
    February 27, 2009

    There’s a beautiful song about “Witch Hazel” by Tom Gala:

    I am lookin’ at a witch hazel
    Blooming in a garden
    Bright yellow flowers
    in the middle of winter time.
    And I tell my heart, “be strong”
    like the witch hazel flower
    and you will not be injured
    by this dark and troubled time.

    Oh, I’ll take myself along
    to a place I know in winter
    and I look at that south sloping bank
    all covered with ice
    and I tell my heart it all will melt
    and run down to the ocean
    and you will not be injured
    by this dark and troubled time.

    You must say goodbye to the one you love
    you must say goodbye to many
    and we must say goodbye
    in way to short a time
    And I tell my heart, “be strong”
    like the witch hazel flower
    and you will not be injured
    by this dark and troubled time.

    There’s a gorgeous a capella harmony version of this on the album “Voices of Winter” done by Priscilla Herdman, Anne Hills, and Cindy Mangsen.
    http://www.priscillaherdman.com/ph__240.htm