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Sunburst in the woodland

A dog walk in Windsor Great Park last weekend rewarded me with this delight – massed yellow and orange witch hazels in full flower.

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Sunburst'

Witch hazel or Hamamelis remind the gardener that spring is on the way with their delightful habit of flowering on bare wood when nothing much else is going on in the garden.   They are great edge of woodland shrubs in this local area and some varieties have a light spicy fragrance.

  • Position: Full sun or light, dappled shade.
  • Soil: Well drained, fertile soil. Hamamelisintermedia ‘Sunburst’ dislikes shallow, chalk soil and will not grow well in wet or waterlogged conditions.
  • Hardiness: Hardy. As a young plant, Hamamelisintermedia ‘Sunburst’ may require protection from severe, late spring frosts once the young leaves have emerged in spring.
  • Flowering Period: January – March.
  • Flower Colour: Golden-yellow
  • Rate of Growth: Moderate.
  • Habit: Hamamelisintermedia ‘Sunburst’ grows to be a large branching vase-shaped shrub.
    • Height: 4 m (13 ft).
    • Spread: 2.5 – 3 m (8 – 10 ft).
  • Notes: In soils which may become wet in winter, it is a good idea to mound-plant Hamamelis to improve the drainage around the root system.
H. Sunburst

H. Sunburst

H x intermedia 'Georges'

H x intermedia 'Georges'

The three best RHS recommended varieties are

H. × intermedia ‘Diane’ AGM: The finest red flowered witch hazel. It has a long flowering period throughout midwinter and is lightly scented. Height 2.5m (8ft). Spread 3m (10ft).
H. × intermedia ‘Jelena’ AGM: One of the best cultivars, unscented coppery orange flowers appear in early to mid-winter. Height 4m (13ft). Spread 4m (13ft).
H. × intermedia ‘Pallida’ AGM: Thought to be the best sulphur-yellow cultivar for garden use. Height 3m (10ft). Spread 4m (13ft).

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