‘Arnold Promise’ Witchhazel, www.fantasticplants.com

I’m happy to report that so far, Nashville has dodged today’s weather bullet. We’ll see what happens after it gets dark and the temperature drops a bit. It has been raining almost continually since about 3:30 this morning, but for most of that time it has been in liquid form and the ambient air temperature is a few degrees above freezing. I’m choosing to believe the forecast the says our temps are going to continue to rise a few degrees and that the city will not be a solid sheet of black ice come morning. We’ll see.

Even with the gloomy weather, a bright spot emerged in the garden this morning. I noticed as I was leaving the house that Hamamelis ‘Arnold Promise’ was just about to burst into full bloom. The petals are still coiled, but it is obvious that with the first warmer day it will regale the garden and perfume the air with its golden yellow blossoms.

Witchhazels are fabulous for the fall, winter and early spring gardens. Depending on the species and cultivar, as well as the area of the country you live in, you might have witchhazels in flower anytime from October through March/April. Of the many varieties I have grown over the years, I keep coming back to ‘Arnold Promise’ as my favorite. The flowers are large, showy and appear consistently every year. Timing can vary depending on your climate, as early as February here in the mid-south and as late as early April in the northern reaches of its hardiness.

The thing I love the most is its bright, forsythia-yellow color. It seems to come during the grayest days of winter, when I need it most, to remind me that I only need hold on a few more weeks until the first warm days of spring will be here and life will come again to the garden. It makes the perfect understory accent for the garden in bright dappled shade or an excellent focal point where it can take advantage of morning sun and a little protection from the sun’s harshest afternoon rays. If you can, site it where you can enjoy it as the rising or setting sun provides dramatic backlighting for its stunning floral display. It’s sure to brighten your spirits on even the dreariest of winter days!

There are many other cultivars of witchhazel, too, and honestly, I’ve never met one I didn’t like. The brilliant golds, buttery yellows, burning oranges and rustic burgundies all bring life to the garden at a time when we need it the most!