We would like to feature three species of plants that really brighten up the dreariest of winter days. When the landscape is virtually asleep and it is too early for bulbs or heath, these plants will give you great enjoyment. The first is Hamamelis or Witch Hazel. We carry three different varieties which we will go over individually, but in general these plants grow as vase-shaped small trees making them perfect for small yards. Flowers with 4 strap-like petals line the limbs for 3-4 weeks in late winter. They prefer sun to part shade and fertile soil that is amended with organic material.
Here are varieties we typically carry:
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’- Arnold Promise is vase-shaped and will reach 12-15 feet in height and spread. It is known for its sweetly fragrant yellow flowers in February and March so plant it close to walkways or the entrance to the house. Its broad, oval green leaves turn a beautiful yellow-orange to yellow color in the fall.
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’– Diane is a red-flowered form with spreading branches. It will grow to 8-12’ tall and 10-15’ wide over 10 years. The flowers which emerge in January to March are slightly earlier but overlapping in bloom time with Arnold Promise. Extend your Witch Hazel season by planting both varieties. The red to copper-red flowers are mildly fragrant and the fall foliage turns attractive shades of yellow, orange and red. This cultivar will make a real show in your yard!
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’- Jelena is an upright cultivar with ascending branches and spreading habit. It will grow 8-10’ tall and wide. It produces sweetly fragrant copper flowers in February and March. These flowers are actually a combination of reddish bases, orange centers and yellow tips, making them very unusual and showy. The fall color is orange-red and is very attractive. Just a note on all of these Witch Hazels- if you need to prune them back for shape or to keep them a certain height, do that right after flowering.
The next group of plants are both in the Dogwood family. Commonly known as red-twig and yellow-twig dogwoods, these plants are wonderful for naturalizing and giving you amazing color in the winter months. Here are the varieties we typically carry:
Cornus sericea ‘Farrow’ Arctic Fire– This variety of red twig dogwood is exceptional because it is dwarf only reaching 3-5’ as opposed to the conventional red-twig which is 8-10’ in height. The beautiful red stems make it striking in the winter and the smaller size makes it a great shrub for smaller gardens. It enjoys full sun to part shade and will tolerate wet soil.
Cornus alba ‘Bud’s Yellow’- This variety grows to 7’ tall and wide. It has attractive white berries in the mid-summer and bright yellow stems in the winter. This plant blooms in late May and early June with small, yellowish-white flowers are held in flattened clusters. Fall color is red. It is also very tolerant of moist locations.
Finally we have the early winter favorite, Winterberry. These deciduous shrubs produce clusters of berries in the fall that become more pronounced when the foliage drops. The berries also provide important food for birds. There does need to be a male Winterberry nearby for the female plants to produce berries. Here are a few of the varieties we typically carry:
Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’ – plant in partial to full sun, this will slowly get 3-5′ tall and wide.
Ilex verticillata ‘Sparkleberry’ – new foliage emerges showy red in spring then changes to green followed by red berries in fall. Will get to be 8-10′ tall and wide and takes part to full sun, though best flower and berry production will come in full sun.
Ilex verticillata ‘Winter Gold’ – Unique with it’s berry color which is a golden-peach, this shrub will get to be 5-8′ tall and wide. Easily grown in full to part sun.