Beauty within a Winter Landscape

Lazily reclining inside the warmth of the house I glance outside into the garden and see splashes of color breaking through a light winter rain.   Little droplets of mist and cloud cover create the perfect dynamic for excellent photos, especially with the brilliant flowers in bloom.

Squirrels are chattering in the morning and sparrows are nestled into the Forsythia intermedia ‘Lynwood’.  This is a popular shrub among landscapers due to its easy maintenance and bright color.  To keep the bush structurally healthy check for any diseased or damaged wood while undertaking the occasional pruning.

Just like the forsythia, the Hamamelis family (Witch Hazel) have unique and vivid late winter blooms (appearing before leaves in the spring) and gorgeous fall leaf color. A very manageable, small tree with an upright vase shape, often wider than tall.  Hamamelis typically grow 12-15′ tall and at least 15’ wide (a few varieties that grow up to 25’).  Plant in full sun to part shade, however, best flowering when planted in full sun.  It’s best to prune in spring (after flowering) to control shape and size.

Every Witch Hazel variety I have seen has fabulous color and can add a rather unique look to winter floral arrangements.  Hamamelis x intermedia is a large group created by breeding H. mollis with H. japonica.   Hamamelis X intermedia ‘Jelena’ has bright orange flowers and said to be most fragrant.  Alternatively, Hamamelis X intermedia ‘Arnold’s Promise’ hosts a bright yellow flower and has a more upright vase shape.

Additionally, Hamamelis virginiana (Common Witch Hazel group) and Hamamelis mollis (Chinese Witch Hazel group) can add dazzle to any yard.    Hamamelis virginiana is best suited as the source for medicinal witch hazel.  

There are only a few delicate fingerlike blooms with bright colors this time of year.  If you are looking for a unique shrub, consider Edgeworthia chrysantha (Chinese Paper Bush).  When this bush is in bloom there are no leaves present but clusters of tubular flowers in a ball form.  The bright yellow flowers are fragrant in late winter.  Another favorable trait for this medium sized shrub is it tends to be deer resistant.

Colors can positively affect an individual’s mood.  Many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder and soft colors are bound to be helpful in reducing stressful symptoms, promoting relaxation and calmness.  Therefore, try incorporating gentle soft white flowers to bloom against a green backdrop during the rainy and chilly months and you’ll be happier. 

Written by Karen Smith, Lane Forest Products Plant Specialist