Back at Boggy Bluebell

IMG_1596Following the delightful flowering of my small collection of witch hazels this year I decided there was both the space and the location for a few more. The garden where I had bought my first specimens does not seem to exist any more and hopefully their National Collection will have been relocated and not destroyed. Local garden centres only stock unnamed or the more common varieties and a trek around the Birmingham conurbation to get to Ashwood Nurseries was do-able but something we could do without, so mail order was looking to be the best option. The internet came up with  Larch Cottage Nurseries, a wonderful looking place in Cumbria (although unfortunately not readily accessible from the M6) with a large selection of witch hazels from which I was already beginning to make a selection, when I suddenly thought about the nursery at Bluebell Arboretum, just a 15-20 minute journey away – and sure enough, they have numerous witch hazels listed although many out of stock so late in the season.

We visited Bluebell Arboretum for the first time last autumn as the leaves were beginning to turn, on a day that began promisingly after several days of rain but quickly changed its mind leaving us cold and very wet and with soaking muddy feet – but a favourable impression of this relatively young arboretum. With several days of warmth and sunshine this week it was a very different matter today, but having learned a lesson last time wellies were very much in order and definitely required for the squelchy conditions. The arboretum had suffered some damage from the recent winds, although nothing major, but the clearing up of fallen branches and twigs had been delayed as the ground was still too wet to get appropriate vehicles on.

Having seen the trees still fully clothed last time it was intriguing to see them fully naked, showing off their buds and bark in many cases, like the Acer x conspicuum ‘Phoenix’ above and the fist size buds of Magnolia ‘Iolanthe’ below, as well as a variety of catkins such as on this unlabelled willow:

catkins&magnoliaDid I buy any witch hazels? Of course I did – ‘Spanish Spider’ (unscented maroon-orange flowers) and ‘Amethyst’ (lightly scented, lavender-purple).

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20 Responses to Back at Boggy Bluebell

  1. Chloris says:

    Lavender-purple? I didn’t know there was such a thing. A girl can never have too many witch hazels. How exciting buying two. I am looking forward to seeing them in bloom.
    You are lucky being so close to Bluebell nursery; they have so many rare and unusual trees and shrubs.

    • Cathy says:

      You are right about the witch hazels of course – and I was open to a third but will wait till they have more stock in later in the year. The owner of the nursery has been involved with the RHS witch hazel trials so will know which the best ones are!

  2. Annette says:

    Uh, I like the bark of the Acer – this genus has so much to offer!

  3. Julie says:

    Like Chloris I am amazed at a lavender purple witch hazel! I will look forward to pictures next winter. You have got me thinking – I only have two witch hazels – perhaps I should find space for one or two more?

  4. AnnetteM says:

    Hmmm – I don’t have any. This blogging is going to get expensive!

  5. Christina says:

    Do I see a new holder of the national collection in the making?

  6. very cool….I planted a very small starter witch hazel and I hope it blooms this year.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, I hope so for you too, Donna – mine are not especially large yet, but I do remember how small they were when I first bought some of them…. 😉

  7. pbmgarden says:

    It’s fun to see someone following her passions. I’ll have to check out witch hazels too.

  8. Anna says:

    Oh do visit Larch Cottage if you ever get the chance Cathy – I think that you would really like it. Himself spent some time talking walls and bricks with the owner when we visited a few years ago now. Glad to read that you have some new witch hazels. I’m not sure whether I could bring myself to buy anything which included the word ‘spider’ in its name but I do like the sound of ‘Amethyst’.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks for the recommendation, Anna – it certainly looked wonderful so we will make a visit when we have our van. Too far from the M6 for an incidental detour on our way north though ps perhaps Spanish spiders are different…

  9. bittster says:

    How fortunate to have such a great nursery so close. My one witch hazel (Pallida) took me years to find at a reasonable price, and now I’m at the point where mailorder across the continent might be a viable option!
    I hope the national collection reappears soon, still in a location nearby 🙂

    • Cathy says:

      How does one measure the value of the pleasure one gets from certain plants, do you think? Witch hazels are worth every penny, but then again so are many many other plants!!

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