November flowers–is that a misprint? No it’s not. The little known Common Witch Hazel blooms in, yes, November, and it will continue into December! Not sparsely, either–every branch is covered with the fragrant, yellow, spidery blossoms.
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) grows 10-20′ tall in a wide flat-topped vase shape. Its smooth gray-brown crooked branches give it an interesting architectural character. In nature it is found most often on wooded slopes such as clay ravines and on the high dunes next to Lake Michigan. It is also found in woods on level ground. In the home landscape it will grow in either sun or shade.
Plant it at the corners of your house, grow it under shade trees or in a shrubbery border. Or make it a focal point in your garden.
Locate it close to your windows so you can see the blossoms even if its too cold to go outside.
I took a cue from nature (always a good idea) and installed three Witch Hazel on a wooded slope at a client’s property. I added ‘Grow-low’ Sumac and Dwarf Bush Honeysuckle, two low-growing shrubs that spread their roots and branches to hold the soil on a slope.
I also added Illinois Rose, its late scarlet foliage a ravishing contrast to the golden Witch Hazel blossoms.
You can see the design for this hillside garden in my book, Design Your Natural Midwest Garden, which you may purchase from this site or find at your library.
The Witch Hazel at St. Charles Park District has glossy gold leaves in October–what could be better than this?
Well, November is even better, with its showy, bright yellow flower tassels.
“To do your bit well,” is the motto of the witch-hazel. When all of its companions have lost their autumn glory and have settled down for their winter sleep, the witch-hazel, like a golden mist drifting through our woodlands, brings a new beauty each day as its foliage disappears, until all that is left to sing the requiem are its lacy branches with their delicate autumn blossoms.