Plant focus – Hammamelis

This is my fist ‘Plant Focus’ post. I hope to cover an area each week which is relevant to what is looking good in gardens right now. This will be plus or minus a good few weeks depending on where you are in the country. I was hoping to call it ‘Focus Friday’ but I missed it for last friday and am too excited to post it so….here we go. My first plant is the Hammamelis genus or Witch Hazels.

Growth habit for Hammamelis

At this time of year Hammamelis are covered in frost tolerant pale to deep yellow to vibrant orange-red flowers along bare stems and have a strong scent. Hammamelis molis has a stronger scent than Hammamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ but I would argue that the latter is more attractive. The cultivar ‘Pallida’ has an RHS award for garden merit (AGM) due to its wonderful pale glowing yellow blooms and easy growing habit. It looks fantastic against the morning sun.

Hammamelis x intermedia 'Pallida' 3
Hammamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’ against the morning sun
Hammamelis x intermedia 'Pallida' 1
Close up of Hammamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’


They can be planted in autumn to winter and look good as a specimen plant or mixed in with other shrubs at the back of a border.

Hammamelis mollis 2
Hammamelis mollis as a specimen plant
Hammamelis x intermedia 'Pallida' 2
A young Hammamelis with snowdrops
Another specimen Hammamelis which has a fantastic growth shape

Hammamelis can also look really good against other winter foliage. It looked particularly good against the dramatic lines of a variegated phormium – this could be a great winter planting combination. They also show up quite well with pines and firs as their glowing flowers brings the evergreen foliage to life in an otherwise not-as-exciting-as-summer month.

Hammamelis mollis 3
Hammamelis against Abies procera
Hammamelis against a variegated Phormium (New Zealand Flax)
Hammamelis against a yellow variegated holly
Showing up against winter shapes


So once I get round to replanting my garden, I’m going to put one of these in. I’m not sure which variety yet but possibly an orange-red one like Hammamelis x intermedia ‘Diane.’ I think choosing one with scent will be a definite. Check out the RHS page for more information on growing and pruning etc.

Do you have any Witch Hazels in your garden?


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