Visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh about this time last year I was captivated by the headiest scent wafting across a path. Some yards away I found the source, it turned out be the flowers of hamamelis. The bed of bushes was vast which accounts for the strength of the scent, they usually grow up to about four metres high. If only I had the space!
The common name for Hamamelis is witch hazel, not related at all to hazel nut plants. Over the centuries it has been used medicinally for treating insect bites and bruises, it helps to shrink and contract blood vessels back to normal size, useful for treating haemorrhoids. It is also used in treating acne.
There are several varieties to choose from. Here the Thompson & Morgan description of : Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Westerstede’, Witch Hazel Hardy Shrub
During the bleak winter months, this deciduous shrub bears an explosion of golden blooms. The sweetly scented, shaggy flowers of Hamamelis intermedia ‘Westerstede’ cling resiliently to its leafless twigs. The summer foliage of Witch Hazel forms a simple backdrop for summer flowering perennials, before turning to vibrant shades of brilliant orange and red in autumn. This majestic specimen shrub is ideal for adding colour and interest to mixed borders and woodland gardens throughout the year.
Height and spread: 4m (13’). Flowering Period: January, February Position: sun or semi shade
1 plant in 9cm pot Despatch: By end of Mar 2012 £12.99
It was in the same gardens that the Queen Mother memorial garden is sited – I was really taken with the shell designs, the best I’ve seen – pictures below.
Val Reynolds Brown, Editor