Garden Dilemmas, Delights & Discoveries, Ask Mary Stone, New Jersey Garden blog

Witch Hazel’s Winter Reprieve

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog, Mary Stone, Heinrich Burns Witch Hazel, Hamamelis x intermesdia Heinrich Bruns

Hello fellow readers, We welcome witch hazel’s winter reprieve of blooms bringing color to the predominantly white and grey landscape. They are one of the first to appear, with tiny mops of late winter blooms.

The late-winter or early-spring bloomers we see are hybrids of mostly Asian species. It’s the native Common or North American Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) that is used to make the staple astringent next to your bottle of rubbing alcohol and peroxide.

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog, Mary Stone, Heinrich Burns Witch Hazel

Hamamelis x intermesdia Heinrich Bruns

Not long ago, I visited Greenwood Gardens, a public garden in Short Hills, NJ, and drooled over two winter-blooming hybrids. A vase-shaped eight to ten-foot shrub with yellow-edged and red-centered blooms, Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Heinrich Brun’s,’ named after a German witch hazel breeder. Then there’s a reddish-orange hybrid, H. x ‘Rochester,’ that grows ten to twelve-foot-tall. Both are hardy in zones 5 to 8.

Mary Stone, Garden Dilemmas, Ask Mary Stone,Gardening tips, Garden Blogs, Stone Associates Landscape Design, Garden Blog, Mary Stone, Rochester Witch Hazel, Hamamelis x ‘Rochester’, Rochester Witch Hazel

Hamamelis x ‘Rochester’

Legend has it that the Mohegans showed settlers how to use Y-shaped witch hazel sticks to find underground water. The dowsing stick bends towards the ground when underground water is detected, which may seem like a superstition. Yet Curtis Strong, harvester of 80 tons of witch hazel each year and the engineer that automated the EE Dickinson witch hazel plant in Connecticut, claimed he’d used the technique to accurately identify locations for twenty to thirty wells in his day.

You can use witch hazel for blemish control, heal diaper rash, shrink under-eye bags and hemorrhoids (talk about multi-tasking), soothe poison ivy, and soothe razor burn sunburn and dry skin or clean your dog’s ears. All of which may sound too good to be true, though it’s one of the only plants used for medicinal purposes approved by the FDA. For sure, one of the most significant benefits of witch hazel, especially those in bloom now, is lifting the winter blues.

Garden Dilemmas? AskMaryStone@gmail.com (and your favorite Podcast App.)

Column Updated 2/8/22 

 

 

 

 

Mary Stone, owner of Stone Associates Landscape Design & Consulting. As a Landscape Designer, I am grateful for the joy of helping others beautify their surroundings which often leads to sharing encouragement and life experiences. These relationships inspired my weekly column published in THE PRESS, 'Garden Dilemmas? Ask Mary', began in 2012. I dream of growing the evolving community of readers into an interactive forum to share encouragement and support in Garden and Personal Recoveries - seeking nature’s inspirations, stimulating growth, weeding undesirables, embracing the unexpected. Thank you for visiting! Mary
  1. Jeff Robinson Reply

    Had to comment….. YES, this was the most amazing plant to stumble upon in my Rutgers horticulture days,,,,,,The winter fragrance is hard to explain, so I’ll just say…amazing !!!

    • Mary Stone Reply

      Thank you, Jeff, for reminding me about the winter fragrance. A winter reprieve indeed. Here’s to spring!

Leave a Reply

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Head shot of Mary Stone in a straw hat   Join my free weekly newsletter!
Holler Box