Early Blooms Anticipate Springtime

Early Blooms Anticipate Springtime

Last weekend I participated (via Zoom) in the 5th annual Galanthus Gala—a two-day celebration of the widely-acknowledged harbinger of spring: the snowdrop. This event attracts hundreds of enthusiastic Galanthus devotees; last year’s in-person symposium claimed more than 400 attendees! And even though exclusively on Zoom this year, 200 people reportedly participated. In Britain and some regions of the US, Galanthus has generated fervor reminiscent of Holland’s 17th century Tulipmania; enthusiasts even call themselves “Galanthophiles”.

In my yard this year snowdrop foliage has only just begun to emerge, with flowering soon to follow. But already in full bloom are many witch-hazels (Hamamelis x intermedia)—this remarkable woody plant is what I consider the true spring harbinger in this region. Its colorful and fragrant flowers gracing its bare branches gently unfurl to spark-up my yard and revitalize my mood. People first seeing its flowers unexpectedly emerging in the otherwise-bleak mid-winter landscape often mistake it for Forsythia – but Forsythia won’t come into bloom for at least another month, or more.

Hamamelis is a truly exceptional flowering shrub. Early-winter sub-freezing temperatures keep its dormant flowers tightly-held in knobby buds. Warmed by above-freezing temperatures, its spidery flower petals unfurl and then re-furl again and again (often described as similar to a New-Years-Eve-party noise-maker) as temperatures fluctuate between freeze and thaw. And typically starting as early as mid-February, this process continues repeatedly for three weeks or more.

As a horticulturist I’m continually surprised to realize how few people know about the incredible Hamamelis, with its myriad flower colors. Ironically, the likely reason for its continuing obscurity is its principal feature–witch-hazel displays its colorful blooms so early in the year, well before most garden centers are open for business. But it’s also easy for me to understand why anyone experiencing Hamamelis in full flower at this otherwise-dormant time of year immediately feels compelled to have it growing in their own yard.

Now that I’ve personally observed the furor of the Galanthophile-crowd, I’m hoping that all the enthusiasm so evident in that group will foster additional spring-awakening festivities. Perhaps “Hamamelaphiles” like me will soon be reveling in spring’s imminent return with a “Hamamelis Holiday”, or similar event that aptly celebrates the exceptional significance of this unique herald of spring?

About the Author:

R. Wayne Mezitt is a 3rd generation nurseryman, a Massachusetts Certified Horticulturist, now chairman of Weston Nurseries of Hopkinton, Chelmsford & Hingham MA, and owner of “Hort-Sense”, a horticultural advisory business. Wayne currently serves as a trustee for the Massachusetts Horticultural Society at The Gardens at Elm Bank in Wellesley MA, and chairman for the Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group (MIPAG).

Share Via:

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print
WESTON NURSERIES

Weston Nurseries is committed to being a center for horticultural knowledge. Enjoy!

SEARCH TOPICS
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages
FOCUS
Table of Contents
EXPLORE MORE
PLANT CARE
SOCIAL
VIDEOS

Seed Starting 101 with Laura Davis from Long Life Farm

Play Video
SEARCH BY MONTH
Archives
EVENTS & CLASSES

Hopkinton

93 East Main Street
Hopkinton, MA 01748
(508) 435-3414

Open Daily  9am to 5pm

Chelmsford

160 Pine Hill Road
Chelmsford, MA 01824
(978) 349-0055

Monday-Friday 8am to 5pm

Saturday and Sunday 9am to 5pm

Hingham

1099 Main Street
Hingham, MA 02043
(781) 749-3773

Open Daily 9am to 5pm

© 2021 Weston Nurseries, Inc. All rights reserved.     |     Privacy Policy