Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Friday, 7 February 2014

100 Flowers : #007 Witch Hazel

At last it's flowered! . . .

#007 : Hamamelis mollis

Chinese Witch Hazel

A few years ago I bought Cliff a Witch Hazel as a Christmas present, we'd admired them in the beautiful Winter Garden at Anglesey Abbey. It was in flower in flower when I bought it, but apart from the odd petal it hadn't flowered again until this year – and it's putting on a good show for us.

The fragrance is only really noticeable when the flower is warmed by the sun (or when you breath on it before sniffing).

The botanical name is a bit of a muddle, I've read two meanings for Hamamelis, either it's the Greek name for the Medlar tree or it means the the fruit and flowers are on the plant at the same time . . . perhaps someone can expand on this?
Mollis means soft, and refers to the leaves which feel furry, like felt.

Close up you can see the four deep burgundy red sepals of each little flower and the long yellow petals unfurl like golden silk streamers.

The medicinal Witch Hazel apparently comes from the bark of the North American Witch Hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, which flowers in the Autumn. "Witch" derives from the Old English word "wice" meaning bendable, the early settlers found that the North American shrub could be put to similar uses as the Hazel they were familiar with back in England . . . for weaving into fences, baskets and wattle for building wall; and also for making dowsing rods – this use seemed to give Hazel rods magical powers and this may have given the name "Witch Hazel" a deeper meaning.

I haven't tried dowsing with Witch Hazel rods . . . a bent wire coat hanger works just fine for me.



  1. This is my third year with Hamamelis Pallida but though it has flowered twice before this year it is a no show. I think the reason is that I have allowed the other flowers to rather overwhelm it. I've been out in the garden today giving it some space!

  2. Ooh I've come back at the right time Celia. I shall definitely be following your countdown of 100 Flowers .

    The Witch Hazel flower is beautiful ...we may be taking a walk around Anglesey Abbey this Sunday as a matter of fact.


  3. Gorgeous photos Celia, especially the final one. Only ever had witch hazel here once and it did not thrive. Eventually we had to give up on it and take it out. It was meant to be a coral/orange colour and I was looking forward to the scent, so lovely to have at this time of the year in the garden. Never mind, I can enjoy yours instead!

  4. I really enjoy the blooms on a Hazel. They look like fingers to me so much that I feel like waving back to them.

  5. What a super little tree, I don't think it would do very well herebut I should like to try one at some point.


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