Plant of the month

We have a range of plants on offer just now including Hellebore, Camellia and Hamamelis.  Hamamelis is one of the very best winter interest shrubs with crazy-spider like flowers, often sweetly citrus scented. There is a stunning range of cultivars available in colours from lemon yellow to deepest red. Most flower in the depths of winter, their fascinatingly frost hardy flowers always being borne on the bare stems. These slow growing shrubs that ultimately reach heights of 4m or more are often known as witch hazel, from the middle English ‘wich’ that refers to the very pliable young stems which were once used for water divining.

Hamamelis prefer a sunny or part-shaded spot with an acidic to slightly alkaline soil that is free-draining yet holds moisture well during the drier months.  They can be grown in open ground, in good-sized containers and, as they are quite slow growing, they’re great for smaller gardens. Witch hazels should be more widely grown and enjoyed. They are easy to grow (no routine pruning but can be tidied up if necessary, ideally when the plant is dormant), have stunning flowers (most with good to strong fragrance) which remain unscathed by heavy frosts and then, come the autumn, these shrubs develop awesome foliage colour (varying from buttery yellow, through fiery orange to rich red).

In a smaller garden or a large pot, Hamamelis can be the star in a small-scale winter garden. It looks stunning, but underplant it with small winter flowering gems like Iris reticulata, miniature Narcissus, snowdrops, hardy cyclamen or maybe some winter hellebores….and you really couldn’t ask for more.