The flowering of the witch hazel

One of the loveliest of all winter shrubs is Chinese witch hazel Hamamelis mollis. We had a fine mature bush of this small tree in a rectory garden once, which normally flowered just before Christmas and continued in bloom until the end of February/beginning of March.  We followed three amazing gardening families in that house, and it was planted, I suspect, by the first of those in the 1960s, so it was already 35-40 years old when we arrived.  Such a wonderful gift, as are all tree plantings, to those who come after.  Of course, destruction also takes place, and after we left, in a fit of tidying, the tree was cut down.  So sad.

I mention this today as, when at Godlingston cemetery last week, I noticed that the witch hazel which stands just opposite the chapel was not yet in flower.  It is a fine small tree, and the sprigs of yellow blossom I have seen used by the grave-diggers to line the path to a child’s grave.  It is late flowering this year, but so too are our snowdrops.  I found a picture of one clump in the rectory garden taken on 11th January 2019, and looked at the same clump yesterday. I put them a week or ten days behind.  The chill and wet weather of last night will not encourage them, but we know that spring will come.

John Mann