Witch Hazel: A Winter Blooming Goddess for Your Garden

Witch Hazels ‘Hamamelis x intermedia’ is one of the first shrubs to bloom in the late winter. They boldly push through snow and chilly nights to send out exquisite and unexpected blooms when you least expect it.

Growers are producing beautiful new cultivars like this that dazzle the garden color palette in late winter. The added feature of having an alluring fragrance makes them even more enticing. Site selection is important as these shrubs can get quite large. Witch hazels are impressive when backlit by the western sun surrounded by a grove of evergreens.


Witch hazel ‘Ruby Glow’ — bewitching vivid red color makes a dramatic statement in the late winter garden


Witch hazel ‘Sweet sunshine’ — soft and pale yellow with delicately fragrant flowers


A new Japanese selection ‘Shibamichi Red’ — a real standout against the grey light in late winter


Witch hazel ‘Barmstedt Gold’ — bold golden flowers that really stand out in the winter garden


Witch hazel ‘Birgit’ — strong purple-red colors with feathery flowers that cascade downward


No garden should be without Witch hazel. It blooms so early and continues to flower for 4-6 weeks in very late winter.


‘Arnold’s Promise’ an easy to find variety of witch hazel, planting along a woodland border makes it really stand out


‘Amethyst’ a totally mesmerizing color in the world of witch hazels, delicately unforgettable

Getting Ready for the Holidays

Magnolia leaves with gold and ivory accents in an antique pot

Framing a front entrance with roping that is wrapped in white lights — pots are more dramatic when the lighting is hidden at the base of the evergreens, soft illumination glows at night

Two Topiary trees flank the steps to a bluestone patio

Boxwood topiary is embellished around the base of a large pot with multicolored evergreens and red sparkleberry

Creating a large wreath with many different evergreens, accented with sparkleberry NE native holly

A concrete container with sparkleberry/gold chamaecyparis and holly

These containers with tall evergreens provide privacy — they will work nicely for enclosing this patio all winter.

Finding Beauty in Imperfection

Wabi-Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic that reflects the very core of Zen philosophy. Age, imperfection and impermanence are the underlying qualities inherent in Wabi-Sabi. This cultivated and refined approach in all art forms suggests the sublime transient beauty in all living things.

It is a significant concept in Japanese culture, and one that can be appreciated in many art forms such as pottery, painting, as well as gardening.

In applying this concept to gardens, it is important to honor and respect what is inherent in the natural, unaltered landscape. Nature is abundant with random imperfections. An ancient tree, enduring years of turbulent weather appears sadly leaning while the roots remain surprisingly anchored to the earth. Random patterns of wild plants echo the innate flow and of nature; this is certainly apparent in the abundance of the often disdained “invasive plants.” Applying the simple principles of a Asian inspired garden provides a place for contemplation, calmness and simplicity.

What remains is the very essence of the pure, natural world—its imperfections and inherent flaws remain constant; it is the acceptance of such flaws that opens us up to the raw, unaltered beauty of nature.


“Wabi-sabi is the art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in earthiness, of revering authenticity above all.” — Robyn Griggs Lawrence, author, The Wabi Sabi House Finding Beauty in Imperfection