Two years ago, I was on a frantic search for a red-blooming witch hazel (Hamamelis sp.). My first choice was 'Jelena,' with 'Diane' being okay, too. Whichever one I could find would make me happy. Native witch hazels here are yellow, and that's fine, but I wanted a red one. To have a red flower blooming outside in late winter made me warm just thinking about it.
I did a little online searching and wasn't too excited about what I found. Oh, both cultivars were available from various nurseries, but the price was more than I wanted to pay. So I looked around locally and only found it in one place. It too was expensive ($99) and the lone shrub they had was already sold anyway, just awaiting pick-up by its new owners.
When I visited another local garden center in the fall of 2008, I came upon a nicely sized shrub for a fabulous price ($30), but it wasn't red. It was a native yellow Hamamelis vernalis, the species meaning it blooms in the spring, rather than the fall. Here, they bloom at the end of February or beginning of March.
Hamamelis vernalis likes moist soils, but they'll do fine in just about any location you choose to put them. I located ours at the back of our property, where the soil does stay a little more wet, especially during winter and wet springs. Last March, we saw our first blooms, which were smaller than I had hoped for, but a lovely shade of golden yellow, as expected.
Last week, at the urging of fellow garden blogger Chris, I braved the cold and snow to see if the witch hazel was starting to bloom yet. Sure enough, there were several buds opening. But instead of yellow, they were red. I thought maybe they were going to be red and turn yellow, but they're still red and show no signs of being yellow at all.
Now, you remember I really wanted a red witch hazel, right? Several really positive things happened to me last week and I mentioned to Mom that perhaps I'd ought to buy a lottery ticket. This week has gotten off to a pretty good start, too, and now it would appear that I have an awesome ability to wish my plants to bloom in the color of my choosing.
This is getting kind of scary.