splef-ty \'splef-te̅ \ adj: nifty, novel, cool or clever.
Sat, 06 Mar 2004

Signs of Spring

We had some strange but wonderfully welcome weather yesterday—bright sunny skies, high winds (frighteningly so at times) and temperatures in the 70’s. Sadly I was trapped at my computer all day, and when Elizabeth and I finally got around to going for a walk today it was much cooler and much grayer out. I actually like winter quite a bit but the long period of moderate cold between when the snow melts and spring actually arrives in the North gets to be a drag.

It was therefore quite fun to see our witch hazel (hamamelis virginiana) burst into bloom during Friday’s “heat wave”. These crazy shrubs flower in late winter/super early spring. The strategy even made sense this year; since the only other plants blooming on Friday were the snowdrops in the other part of the yard, the hamamelis got all of the attention from those bugs that were active. There were several Asian ladybugs and (yuck) a freshly hatched housefly sipping whatever nectar these skinny little flowers offer and dragging around the plant’s pollen. Maybe they are not so stupid after all!

Hamamelis virginiana

The flowers aren’t among the beauties of the plant kingdom, but they are bright, bright yellow and they add a welcome splash of color in the yard during a dreary season. Witch hazels are native to the eastern United States, have great fall color and are low maintenance. They are great plants.

Hamamelis virginiana closeup