No Witch Hazels Were Harmed in the Production

IMG_1118I would love to be able to say that I met this unnamed hellebore face-to-face, but alas no – that would have entailed lying down on a cushion of emerging snowdrops in the woodland edge border and burying my chin in the undergrowth, which I trust you will agree was beyond the call of duty despite both her beauty and her timely arrival. I spotted her yesterday, when I was to-ing and fro-ing down the garden with watering cans, emptying the water butt next to the existing greenhouse and pouring the contents into the stream. Each journey involved remembering to duck under the struts of the now half-size new greenhouse which straddled my route as the Golfer exerted a junior hacksaw on its excess length; the modification, however, is now on hold as the Golfer has put on his Roofing hat for the time-being.

Other than Helleborus niger ‘Christmas Carol’ (which has been featured a few times in the last month) this is the first hellebore to show any signs of opening up this season in what was therefore a thrilling discovery, such is the excitement of the garden at this time of year. Meanwhile, the offshoot of ‘Christmas Carol’ which was replanted separately after the plant was lifted to see if this would help the flowers in their vertical progression, is showing just what the flowers should look like when they do open – and look at the dozens of embryo buds round the base! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they all grew into full size flowers?! The main plant, still smothered in those gloriously healthy green leaves, is now allowing slightly better glimpses of the flowers, but nevertheless requiring a brushing aside of the foliage for a proper view. Looking at pictures on the internet I have yet to see another example with such dense foliage!

H.nigerNow, for those concerned at my brazenness in wielding secateurs around a precious witch hazel to provide blooms for my vase on Monday, let me assure you that Hamamelis japonica ‘Zuccariniana’ was not harmed in any way by my judicious snipping – so judicious IMG_1097that you wouldn’t have known I had been anywhere near it. It is quite a twiggy specimen, unlike any of the other witch hazels I have, and each twig had its fair share of shreds regardless of its length – my precious blooms were on two twigs cut almost at ground level and from the longest very well-twigged branch and are meant to last well when cut, so they may reappear in next week’s vase, and the one after that! Can I smell them now they are inside? Unfortunately I think not, although bunged-up nostrils don’t help – BUT! I am convinced I caught a whiff of fragrance from H Arnold Promise as I travailed with the watering cans!


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19 Responses to No Witch Hazels Were Harmed in the Production

  1. Chloris says:

    The only way you can look at Hellebores properly is to rudely look up their skirts. This is a lovely one. I have lots of Hellebores out now but Arnold Promise stubbornly refuses to open up his buds.
    His roofing hat???? You throw that in so casually. What about welding, Have you tried that?

    • Cathy says:

      The hellebore had the sun behind it which accentuated her beauty even more – until I saw the photo I couldn’t appreciate it to the full. I think Arnold is falling short on his promises and needs a stern talking to, don’t you? Oh and yes, we do have a welder but have only used it once, so that doesn’t really merit a welding hat.We are both practical people but probably wouldn’t have done half of what we have done if we were still in our first marriages.

      • Chloris says:

        Well I think you are amazing. And of course you have a welder I guessed you would have.
        I’ll go and have a chat with Arnold in the morning.

  2. rusty duck says:

    I do wonder how it is that witch hazel ever got its reputation for scent, as I’ve said previously I’ve never been able to smell it.
    So you can get your own back, I have taken the choppers (lightly) to some of the hellebores to improve visibility of the flowers. I only cut out the worst of the spotty leaves though..

  3. Sarah says:

    Hee hee I did have to chuckle at this post! I think some people were just as concerned about my Eucomis as they were about your witch hazel! I like to think I rescued my Eucomis though because the three I chose had flopped over and one was completely hidden from view. Your hellebore is a complete delight! There’s nothing more uplifting than spotting a new flash of colour in winter. Just gorgeous πŸ™‚

  4. Ah yes, hellebores, born to tantalise, beautiful flowers demanding that you crawl in the dirt aand have the sky as a backdrop to any photograph! I do love them though, and I hope your buds turn in to blooms in due course. It is not being a good year for hellebores in my garden, at least in the front, “niger” gave me a single bloom and my brand new specimen has none at all. I suspect the soil is too free draining. As to witch hazel scent, I think it is a myth, I can never get a whiff. Hmmm, sounds like the start of a Pam Ayres-style poem…

    • Cathy says:

      Hello Janet – good to hear from you. Hellebores born to tantalise….? Yes, perhaps they were! So sorry yours have been a disappointment this year – perhaps they will re-establish in a year or two? I am looking forward to your witch hazel poem – have you finished it yet?!

  5. bittster says:

    Nice hellebore! and the witch hazels sure add a lot of color to the garden, something you don’t see in the closeups.
    You could always trim off ‘Christmas Carol’s’ foliage to see the blooms better. Mine lose the leaves each winter due to cold, and they don’t seem to miss a beat.

  6. Christina says:

    I would love to be able to grow Hellebores but summer is really too hot and dry for them; I especially live the ones that are the same colour as yours. However some friends (complete non gardeners) brought be a beautiful specimen in a pot as a hostess-gift, very carefully placed in an interesing pot with moss all arounf its base. Not a specimen for indorrs I think so I’ve planted it into the large pot that I see from the kitchen, it will hopefully bloom most of the winter and I can try to plant it somewhere in spring.

    • Cathy says:

      What a shame not to be able to grow hellebores – I suppose that is the downside of all the other things that DO grow well or better than in the UK. What else do you miss that you might struggle to grow? Do have a shady spot where you could plant your gift, perhaps with a liner to conserve moisture, like a mini bog garden?

      • Christina says:

        I try not to grow things that really won’t be happy. I do miss some of the winter flowering things which don’t seem to flower in winter, even Viburnum tinus doesn’t flower for as long as in the UK. But the longer days in winter and the quality of the light count for a great deal. One thing I do miss is bluebells in spring filling the woods, I enjoy the wild cyclamen here instead.

  7. Annette says:

    No sign of Hellebores yet and if it continues to rain like this we’ll all be swept away in due course…the purplish-pink one is beautiful! I brought some over from my old garden, hope they’ll like it here as much as we do. Enjoy your potterings πŸ™‚

    • Cathy says:

      Sorry about your continued rain – we were expecting it to rain all day and all weekend too, but it is only been a bit damp so far with no real rain. I think some colder weather is due next week, but we shall see. I found a label for the hellebore after all, but it was just ‘Pink’, so presumably an unnamed seedling

  8. I too can’t seem to get a whiff of witch hazels. I planted one last year and my helpful nursery man said the scent was better in sunshine – but we haven’t had too much of that so far. I heard Bob Flowerdew on gardeners question time suggest rubbing the flowers off into a bowl and taking them inside – that way you get the scent without losing a branch of your bush.

    • Cathy says:

      Hi there – yes, the warmth is meant to bring out the fragrance and I love Bob Flowerdew’s idea which I will definitely try. However, I have come to the conclusion that not ALL varieties have a fragrance…

  9. Pauline says:

    It seems I am the only one that can smell the beautiful perfume on my witch hazels, H. Arnold Promise is definitely like Seville oranges and H.mollis pallida is nowhere near as strong but it is there, I don’t really know what to liken it to, vanilla maybe? Your pink hellebore is beautiful, ours are starting to open now, soon the woodland will be very colourful.

    • Cathy says:

      But your ‘lone’ voice has kept some of us persevering, Pauline, and I am thrilled to be catching a whiff of Arnold Promise when I go by – it was a sunny afternoon the first time, and I immediately went back to check and no, I wasn’t imagining it! Not sure about Seville oranges – will have to go back and smell it again! I don’t have H Mollis. Isn’t it lovely to find the hellebores opening? I found some dark ones almost open today, before our storm came!

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