Chinese Witch Hazel at Quarry Bank - February

Chinese witch hazel can be found on the banks of the Tennis Lawn © Stefan Roberts

Chinese witch hazel can be found on the banks of the Tennis Lawn

Latin Name: Hamamelis mollis
Common Name: Chinese Witch Hazel
Size: 2.5 – 4 meters in both height and width
Planting: Grow in either Full Sun or Partial Shade, preferably in a sheltered area. It requires fertile soil, moist but well-drained in a neutral to acidic pH.
Care: Generally trouble-free. Remove any misplaced or diseased/damaged branches in early spring. Adding a good mulch of leaf mold around the base helps feed the plant and keep the roots cool in summer.
Introduction: Introduced by Charles Maries, a British plant explorer who was employed by James Veitch & Sons, Chelsea, London, in 1879.

Chinese Witch Hazel is a sizeable shrub with a branching habit and will require some space to grow. Our plants are young and recently planted but you can see them either in the borders around the Tennis Lawn (near the bench) or near the steps leading up to the cliff. It makes an ideal woodland shrub, perhaps the star of an open glade or as part a partially shaded garden border.

Chinese Witch Hazel is just a mass of greenery throughout the summer, but as the seasons turn and autumn approaches it begins to shed its ovate leaves, turning them into a range of colours; yellows, reds and oranges. However, it is in the depths of winter that the Chinese Witch Hazel shows its worth. From bare branches, small delicate flowers are borne. Sulphur yellow petals curl back like wood shavings and the flower releases a strong spicy scent into the cold air.

Chinese Witch Hazel is one of the parents of a range of cross-breeds (the other parent being Hamamelis japonica). These hybrids have been developed into a range of colours for the winter gardener, some to try are Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ with bright yellow flowers; Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’ with copper orange flowers or Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’ with luxurious red flowers. There are others, but it is important to note when looking that some of the showier flowers, colours come at a loss of scent.