Extremes

Regular readers of my blog will know that I have a few witch hazels (Hamamelis), a wonderful shrub or small tree to have in the garden to provide winter blooms, some of them fragrant, and autumn colour. ‘A few’ is rather an understatement, as I actually have 11 of them – or HAD, as there are now 12. I blame Chloris (forgive me for saying so, but it’s true!) of  The Blooming Garden for indirectly enticing me into a Large and Expensive Purchase. A couple of years ago she referred to a witch hazel she had in a previous garden called ‘Strawberries and Cream’; with its unusual bicoloured red and pale yellow blooms I was immediately smitten and having already decided there was space for perhaps only one further witch hazel, this easily cemented its place as The One. Once the thought was there, of course, it was only going to fester until something was done about it.

There were one or two stumbling blocks in the way adding it the other 11 – not only my self-imposed embargo on buying plants in 2016 but the rather tougher challenge of tracking one down, this variety seemingly all but as rare as hen’s teeth. The only nursery I could find which might stock it was Karan Junker‘s specialist tree nursery in Somerset but an email to him early this year indicated there were no small specimens available, only a couple of larger and eyewateringly expensive ones. As suggested, I contacted him again in September to find the situation had not changed but, Reader, I succumbed… This one has had my name on it since then and was delivered last week once conditions were right for lifting (right for lifting in Somerset, but not right for planting in Warwickshire where temperatures were still hovering aound freezing); even the Golfer does not know exactly what I paid for it.

Temperatures rose a little yesterday and I was able to dig a hole large enough to take most of the large and well protected rootball, aided by Karan’s recommendation that it was ‘mound planted’, the finished planting having ‘something of the profile of an upturned saucer’. There was no way I could lift it myself into the hole at one end of the special snowdrop border, so the poor Golfer had to endure a number of lifting in-and-outs and round-and-rounds before I was happy with its position. Unlike all my other witch hazels, which have a typical urn shape, this one has a distinct main stem making it more tree-like in appearances, presumably because of the way it was grafted and perhaps one of the reasons behind its price. All we need to do now is wait for it to flower and see if there enough ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ to justify the purchase…

At the other extreme, we called at our local garden centre yesterday with a Β£1.55 points voucher to spend before today which I thought could be put towards a packet of seeds. Unbeknown in advance, we found them selling off pre-packed bulbs at 50p, fill-a-bag of tulips for 50p and single hyacinth bulbs for 10p each. It may be quite late to be planting bulbs but lots of us still do, and this was too good an opportunity to resist so I now have Β£79.79 worth of bulbs to plant for the princely sum of Β£8.10, just a little less than was paid for the witch hazel…

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43 Responses to Extremes

  1. Laughing with you….I only have two unplanted perennials lurking…need more.

  2. Eliza Waters says:

    Bargains are hard to pass up!

  3. tonytomeo says:

    Oh, I don’t think of those as witch hazels; just ‘hazels’. We grew them for a while, but here was limited demand for them here. (I think of witch hazel as Hamamelis virginiana.)

    • Cathy says:

      The native UK hazel is Corylus avellana and none of the Hamamelis are natives, but are mostly bred as hybrids, H intermedia, a cross between Japanese and Chinese witch hazels

      • tonytomeo says:

        Corylus are grown for nuts in Oregon and other places here. There is a native specie here, but it makes only a few very small nuts. I do not know if they are hazel nuts or filberts here or there. The North American witch hazel is not native here. I had to get mine from the National Arbor Day Foundation.

      • tonytomeo says:

        (By ‘native’ witch hazel, I mean Hamamelis virginiana.)

  4. Love a bargain and boy, were those good bargains, Your new witch hazel looks good and sounds delicious, I’m glad you treated yourself.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Jackie – I wouldn’t normally even dream about spending that much n a plant, but I would have just gone on hankering after S & C so at least that’s done and dusted now – and no more witch hazels to buy!

  5. rusty duck says:

    I’m sure the witch hazel will do you proud Cathy. It looks to have plenty of buds.. not long to wait!

    • Cathy says:

      A lot of buds, Jessica, but not as many as most of the ones I have already although some I have had for 14 years or so and I would expect them to be reasonably marture and floriferous

  6. Christina says:

    Sometimes we need to treat ourselves and I’m sure that Liz’s recommendation will live up to expectations. The bulbs, great bargain and at least for the tulips its actually a good time to plant.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, I can’t see myself spending that much on a plant again, Christina – normally too sensible, so this was a one-off! Ironically, having regretted not uing more tulips than I did from PN I had just ordered some half price ones from Sarah Raven, so I am awash with tulips now! I planted the bargain ones today in pots and worked out that they were about 2p each – so hopefully I shall have some generous vases in due course! The ground is still a bit too hard for the bulbs that will go directly outside – fritillary, camassia, allium – but hopefully they should be in by midweek

  7. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I can’t wait to see that witch hazel bloom. It must be $pectacular. I love the shape of it. I have only 2 Witch Hazels and they both are shrub-like. Lucky you finding all of those bargain bulbs. I wouldn’t be able to resist either.

    • Cathy says:

      No hint of colour in them yet, Lisa… I am going to write a reminder on next year’s calendar to visit our garden centre the week before Christmas and hopefully bag bargains again!

  8. Excellent, I hope to ooh and aah when it flowers. The only problem with all those bargain bulbs is that they need putting in the ground. However I think the weather man reckons it will be warmer later this week. Hope so I still have a 1 ton bag of mulch to spread.

    • Cathy says:

      Oh Dorris, please do ooh and aah as much as you like when the time comes… πŸ˜‰ And yes, I am aware of the task I now have and the ground is still too frozen for to be planted directly or in pots already outdoors, but as least I have been able to fill some other pots and get the hyacinths and tulips planted. Wednesday is looking a good bulb planting day here…

  9. Cathy, I’m very happy for her Witch Hazel. As Christina says, you have to treat yourself. Congratulations for having found the super rebates of bulbs: I would have done the same, buy. Greetings from Margarita.

  10. johnvic8 says:

    Good luck with the witch hazel. I note how difficult it is to pass up such a bargain for bulbs. I never can.

  11. Cathy says:

    I hope the witch hazel settles in well and produces lots of sweet flowers for you soon! I love a good bargain, but I think you did far better there than I ever have! πŸ˜‰

    • Cathy says:

      I had to go back there today to get some more compost to pot up the tulips and hyacinths but resisted even walking past the remaining bulbs there! I hope none of them actually get thrown out as I am sure they could brighten up all sorts of commmunity spaces

  12. sweetbay says:

    12 witch hazels, wow! ‘Strawberries and Cream’ sounds unique and beautiful.

  13. Brian Skeys says:

    Like you I bought some discounted bulbs from the GC. I can’t resist a bargain either, Cathy. Just think what you save over the years at the discount table alows you spoil yourself occasionally.πŸ˜€

  14. Chloris says:

    Oh I do hope Strawberries and Cream will live up to your expectations. It is a beauty but what an eye -watering price. But still, think of all the money you saved by not buying any plants last year. You deserved a treat and clearly you didn’t have quite enough witch hazels. I’ve only got 6 so I really need more. Without snowdrops, witch hazels and hellebores winter would be very long and dreary.

    • Cathy says:

      I know I haven’t even hinted at the price but I suspect most people will probably underestimate what I paid – even the carriage cost more than I have ever paid for any plant… Hey ho – I have no regrets though (unless I kill it off of course, but I haven’t done that with any of the current 11 although I did with 2 or 3 predecessors) πŸ™‚ It is good to have so many plants of interest in this lean season and witch hazels, snowdrops and hellebores are especially likeable ps which one do you hanker after for your 7th…?

  15. I love witch hazels but we live on chalk so don’t think they would like it. Do you know if they grow well in pots?

    • Cathy says:

      They can be grown in pots but it would need to be a big one for a reasonable size plant. If you Google it you can find out more

  16. Anna says:

    Oh how exciting – it may have been on the expensive side but then you saved money on the bulbs so there was some to spare for a well deserved treat. Look forward to seeing photos of your new treasure in bloom. I that Karan Junker is a she rather than a he πŸ™‚

    • Cathy says:

      Although there was still a vast difference between the savings on the bulbs and the price of the witch hazel, Anna… but it was a one-off and I doubt I will ever spend as much on a plant again. I have a daily inspection of each witch hazel along with the snowdrops. No hint of colour on S&C yet

    • Cathy says:

      And thanks for alerting me to Karan’s female status – to my shame I assumed she was male. Looking her up I now she also has books to her name (well, at least one!)

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