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Companion Plants: Witch Hazel, Hellebores & Dogwood

December 4, 2016

Plant partners for witch hazel. Hellebores and Cornus.

I was noticing yesterday that the tips of daffodils and spring bulbs are just beginning to poke through the ground, the branches of the willows have yellowed and the forsythia stems have swollen. Its obvious that the fresh yellows of spring are on their way.  But a lesser known and even earlier spring harbinger is the Hamamelis (Witch Hazel). In addition to reds and oranges, it is available in a range of beautiful yellows.  But what else is beautiful in the garden in the winter and what companion plants can be planted with Witch Hazel to create an exciting winter garden?

What to plant with Witch Hazel?

These plant pairings are perfect for late winter or very early spring and it will bring color to your garden when you most wish for it.  That is when the end of winter just can’t come soon enough.

Option 1 – Hamamelis pallida (yellow Witch Hazel) + Hellebore + Cornus

hamamelis_intermedia pallida

Hamamlelis palida

My favorite witch hazel is Hamamelis intermedia ‘pallida’. It is among the palest and it’s color reminds me of freshly churned butter.  The center of the flower is a deep burgundy and it would be a beautiful compliment to the interestingly uncommon Helleborus ‘Onyx Odyssey’ (available from Grobes Nursery).

Helleborus__Onyx_Odyssey_
Helleborus ‘Onyx Odyssey’

On the other end of the yellow spectrum is the almost orange Hamamelis ‘Harry’. I think this would have an excellent companion in Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter fire’ or in Arctic Fire dogwood.  The stems fade from red to yellow and when planted in a clump they make a striking impact.  Combine with a few Hamamelis ‘Harry’ scattered about for something surprising and exciting at this time of year.

Hamamelis harry
Hamamelis ‘Harry’
cornus sanguinea midwinter fire
Arctic Fire dogwood

Option #2 – Hamamelis Diane or Amethyst Witch Hazel + Pink Hellebore + Viburnum Bodnantense ‘Dawn’ + Lorapetalum

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’  has unusual, copper-red flowers with a light scent and Amethyst Witch Hazel (Hamamelis vernalis) has striking pinky purple bloom that is heavily scented. The leaves of ‘Diane’ turn dramatic shades of yellow in winter and Amethyst leaves turn shades of orange, red and yellow.

Viburnum bodnantense ‘dawn’ is one of my favorite shrubs – it blooms on bare stems before anything else. It blooms at the same time as witch hazel and also carries a sweet scent. Both of these shrubs never fail to surprise me at this otherwise bleak and frozen time of year.

Create a fragrant midwinter surprise by combining these two large shrubs. Both bloom in shades of pink and would be great color companions to any of the pink or burgundy varieties of Hellebore.

If you are in a place where lorapetalum is winter hardy and provides deep purple foliage color, it would be a beautiful accent to both the hamamelis and viburnam bodnantense flowers.

Where to Buy Hamamelis / Witch Hazel Shrubs Online?

Fairweather gardens has a huge selection of Hamamelis  in the full red- orange-yellow color spectrum. You are sure to find just the right shade.

image: the mixed border, from Grobes Nursery, from fairweather gardens and from crocus.

 

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plant partners for late winter interest in the garden
Plant partners for witch hazel. Hellebores and Cornus.

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  1. Gwen Erskine says:

    Great plant combination ideas. Perfect to extend the fiery display around my maple tree. I have a couple arctic fire dogwoods but I am smitten witht the midwinter fire after seeing at Tower Hill Botanic Garden. The placement there is very dramatic. Any idea who sells the Midwinter Fire here in the states?

    • Rochelle says:

      Gwen – It looks like Rare Find Nursery has sold it in the past … (perhaps out of season now). Also – I find that If I ask for something, better nurseries will often find it for me.

  2. Gwen Erskine says:

    Thank you, I will look here. I just have to keep looking ’til it’s the right season! I will ask my local nursery too.(Weston Nursery in Hopkinton, MA). Love your posts by the way, your platform provide lots of great inspiration! Got hooked when your house tour was on DesignMom.

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