Of all the glorious blooms that are appearing in our spring garden, the corylopsis or winterhazel may have the grandest display of all. Planted beneath the boughs of an ancient tulip poplar, it is a graceful open woody shrub that puts on a spectacular spring show in this semi-shade location. In March, before any foliage appeared, pendulous lemon-colored flowers dangled along thin arching stems. The 3-inch long panicles, thick with clusters of yellow flowers, appeared in such quantity that they illuminated the otherwise leafless garden.
The shrub, found growing wild in the woodlands of China and Japan, is planted elsewhere as an ornamental in protected areas of zones 5-8. It will do well in moist, well-drained acid soil and seems to be resistant to pests and diseases. The fragrance of the blooms is sweet, similar to witchhazel, a family relative.
Michael Dirr says about the winterhazel, “In full flower, they are as beautiful as any plant that could grace a garden.” I do agree!
Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester