Best places to see snowdrops
Witch hazels (Hamamelis) are one of winter’s most distinctive shrubs, their quirky, spidery blooms making them instantly recognisable even before you’ve breathed in their scent. At their peak, these are shrubs that make a lasting impression.
Fiona Edmond, garden designer and owner of Green Island Gardens in Essex, is one of Plant Heritage’s National Collection holders of Hamamelis. “I first fell in love with hamamelis at the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park, when we used to live nearby,” she recalls. “I would go in and be blown away by the colours in the middle of winter. The park beyond looked so bare and drab, but the witch hazels’ colour and scent was amazing.”
After moving to her new home at Green Island and starting to develop the extensive woodland gardens around it, she knew she had to add witch hazels. Her collection started with a few of each colour, but as the 20-acre site was planted, she found herself growing more.
Now Fiona grows almost 100 different varieties. Growing so many varieties alongside each other means Fiona is finely attuned to the plants’ subtle differences. Cultivars of the two Asian hamamelis species (H. mollis, from China and H. japonica, from Japan) and the hybrids (H. x intermedia) that resulted from these species being crossed, have fragrant flowers, but Fiona says the scent tends to vary according to flower colour. “The paler yellow ones are more citrusy, and as you go through the oranges to the reds, they become more spicy and cinnamony.”
As a general rule of thumb, witch hazels’ autumn colour often correlates with their flower colour: “Pale yellow varieties tend to have butter-yellow autumn foliage. If you go through to orange-flowered ‘Jelena’, it has more orangey leaves, and on
Best places to see snowdrops
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