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This month in the garden...


"The best way to make sure you're removing a weed and not a valuable plant? If it comes out of the ground easily it's a valuable plant."



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This Month in the Garden (November 2009)...

The flowers of native witch-hazels are the final blooms in Port Washington gardens.  They appear after the last yellow leaves flutter away, leaving the tree’s bare branches festooned in yellow streamers.

Hamamelis virginiana is native to North America east of the Mississippi River and takes its name from a corruption of the Old English words meaning pliant hazel.  It is a multi-stemmed understory tree usually growing 10 to 15 feet tall and wide although specimens in ideal locations may reach 30 feet.  This native is hardy from zones 3 to 8 and is easily identified by its zig-zagging branch pattern.

The tree’s leaves and bark are used to make astringent used in after-shaves, acne treatments, and to soothe aches and bruises.  It’s also used for the “divining rods” dousers claim will find water.

Witch hazel is unusual not only for its late season bloom but because its jingle bell-like fruit capsules take a year to mature before explosively expelling their seeds.  In the autumn the four petal flowers, seed capsules and buds for the next year’s blossoms are all present on the tree at the same time.

Most witch hazels available at nurseries are hybrids of Asian species (sold as Hamamelis x intermedia) which bloom in late winter, from late February to early April.  These trees have flowers ranging from yellow to orange to red and autumn color of yellow through orange. They’re pollution tolerant and hardy from zone 5 to 8.

This Month in the Garden Archive:

November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
June 2010

April 2010
March 2010
February 2010

January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009

March 2009


Port Washington Garden Club, PO Box 492, Port Washington, Wisconsin 53074
Registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization