Bewitched by Hamamelis

Bewitched by Hamamelis

With their scented, spider-shaped flowers, Hamamelis sparkle in the winter sunlight and herald the coming of spring. Their crimped petals in hues of red, orange and yellow always put a smile on my face and brighten even the gloomiest of days.

Hamamelis has a long history of use by humans. They are more commonly known as witch hazels, and it is from the bark of Hamamelis virginia that the astringent witch hazel is extracted. From a small genus of five species there are now more than 100 cultivars, and the good news is that there is one to suit almost every garden.


One of the most compact cultivars is Hamamelis intermedia ‘Harry’, growing to 2.5m x 2.5m. It is an early flowering shrub with large ribbon-like, light orange flowers and a fresh floral fragrance. ‘Diane’ is a popular selection with sweetly scented, rich coppery-red flowers and a spectacular display of autumn leaves in shades of yellow, orange and red. At 4m x 4m it is one of the larger cultivars, and has a particularly spreading habit. ‘Orange Peel’ is particularly well named. With petals like candied peel and the sweet scent of marmalade, it flowers through January and February and colours well in the autumn. ‘Barmsted Gold’ has eye-catching bright yellow flowers that smell of bergamot. It is one of the most commonly available cultivars and is strong, reliable and free-flowering – great for beginners!

My favourite is ‘Vesna’, a vase-shaped witch hazel that is less spreading than most, growing taller than it does wide. It has pretty orange-yellow flowers that smell of honey and a beautiful display of yellow and orange leaves in the autumn.


Hamamelis are versatile shrubs and thrive in many gardens; however, they do prefer a slightly acidic soil that holds water in summer and drains well in winter. The only real downside is that Hamamelis take between four and six years to get going, so you will have to be patient. But they are worth waiting for: in a few years you will be rewarded by a dazzling display of flowers that will become more prolific each year and leave you smiling on the coldest winter days.

Choose an open site with good light and water well while they establish. They flower on one-year-old wood so if required prune little and often rather than cutting back into the plant.



Kitchen garden for Jamie Oliver

We were delighted to be asked by Jamie Oliver’s The Big Feastival to design and produce The Little Patch ‘grow your own kitchen garden’ at Alex James’s Farm, Kingham, Oxfordshire on 1st and 2nd September 2012.

Here’s a taster of what you’ll find in the garden… espalier apples, step-over apples and pears, speciality fruits, salad vegetables and luscious legumes. A culinary corner in which to go mad with herbs and discover new tastes and scents – young gardeners will love this too. In The Little Patch you can even make an herb bouquet to pop in a jug or as a gift.


Get ready to do the Chelsea Chop

With Chelsea Flower Show fast approaching, we do the Chelsea Chop at the end of May. A method of pruning to keep the size of your herbaceous plants compact, it produces particularly good results on Sedums, Heleniums and Solidago. In a bed where a group of herbaceous plants are repeated, the chop delays flowering until later in the summer and gives a much longer lasting display.

Gap planting in a cottage garden

Prune, preen and plant. The tidy beds and border service includes trimming and deadheading established plants so that they look full and flourishing. Through natural plant cycles and the effects of climate or environment, openings emerge. Customers often ask “What can I plant in the gaps?” and we are happy to help with a suggested plant list which you can buy yourself or ask us to source from local nurseries or further afield.

Recent suggested list for a customer

  • Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’
  • Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’, particularly lovely variety which also featured in Andy Sturgeon’s Best in Show garden at Chelsea Flower Show last year
  • Ajuga reptans ‘Burgundy Glow’
  • Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’
  • Heuchera ‘Plum Pudding’
  • Geum ‘Lady Stratheden’
  • Euphorbia griffithii

Gap Planting

Natural garden boundary design

The Oxfordshire Gardener was commissioned to create a linear scheme focused on a beautiful pleached hedge to give natural height. The fence was first erected onto the boundary, a double ‘H’ design was constructed to the face of the fence to soften the upright lines. Five pleached trees were planted, 8ft in height and spanning 40ft in total to create an instant young hedge. A training system was put in place to develop the form of the hedge as it grows.

Book an event gardener

Booking an event gardener can help in the preparations for your event, so that your garden will be looking its best – lush and green, rich in flowers, tidy edges, preened pots or gleaming patios. To prepare for your celebration, send us a quick enquiry or call us on 01869 338592. We are here to help!

Book an Event Gardener