Musings & Threads. The Harbinger of Spring.
The Harbinger of Spring. Witch Hazel.
When we built our house seventeen years ago, I poured over landscape, horticulture, and garden design books. This was the first time I would be able to “start from scratch” so to speak. In the main, most of my ideas panned out. Our first landscaper and I were very in synch, favoring odd numbers and asymmetrical placements. Our second was another story, as he liked everything neat and tidy, with even numbers—if there were two on one side, there had to be two on the other—and everything trimmed up and in order like wooden soldiers. Interesting. A snafu in one of my initial side gardens was my placement of three witch hazel bushes. They were small—everything was—and I was in love with their tiny, spindly, intoxicatingly fragranced blossoms. So, we planted them. Holy smokes—they grew so fast, and we had to cut them back, and they were not happy. So our second landscaper suggested so nicely, that really they should be growing in a much more open space—like in our backyard. I could see he was right. It was a bit of a compromise, because there only three—unsettling for him, but he was able to plant them in a row along the fence—nice and even, which was a little unsettling for me, but so be it. Well, they haven’t been pruned since. They are huge wild monsters, probably fifteen feet tall at least, and at least six feet in diameter. The bark is a shade of gray and truth be told they are even a bit messy looking for me in the winter, when the capsule like coverings for the blossoms just seem to be everywhere and are pretty unattractive.
Then the magic happens. In early February, whatever the weather, snow or no snow, the bud covers begin to split and fall off and tiny, I mean super tiny little circles on stems—kind of gray/tan in color appear. That’s when I begin checking, because I don’t want to miss the first blooms, which pop out sometime around the middle of February. Within a week to ten days, the blossoms are everywhere. When you look at the bushes from a distance you cannot see the individual flowers because they are so small, but you see a shadow of reddish color—the insides of all the blossoms are a lovely pinky red. But upon closer inspection, the gorgeous mini-blossoms I saw in my gardening books are there—they are everywhere. I cannot help but smile, and of course put my face into them because the scent is incredible. So, these days, when I say that I’m taking our dog Bella out, in truth, that’s where you’ll find me, with my face buried in one of the witch hazels. The top of the bushes, which catch full sun all day, are just loaded. I wish I could reach up there. For me, regardless of what Punxsutawney Phil has to say, I know that spring is right around the corner.
Please click on the photos to enlarge. I wish I could make it scratch and sniff for you.