Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is another great way to extend the beauty of your garden or yard beyond summer. The fall blooming shrub has clusters of yellow or orange ribbony flowers that bloom through winter, providing both texture and color to the bleak winter garden.
Though it thrives in sunny spots, witch hazel does just as well in woodland gardens. It’s native to woodlands in eastern U.S. woodland–another great reason to plant it. The fully mature shrub reaches between 15-20 feet in height with a spread of between 12-15 feet.
Witch hazel is what I would call a laid-back, unconstructed plant….it has a loose and somewhat wild informal feel. It’s an upright shrub that’s well-suited for planting groundcovers under, and it has a rounded, vase-like form.
Witch hazel is hardy in zones 4-8. It likes good, moist soil–esp. heavy clay-like soils. In the spring and summer, its leaves are bright green; when they turn to yellow and fall in September is when blooming begins.
The shrub is of course the source of medicinal witch hazel, which is extracted from its bark and leaves and used in lotions, astringents, aftershaves, etc., often as a natural alternative to rubbing alcohol.
Both photos courtesy of Wikipedia.