LIFE'S BETTER IN THE MOUNTAINS

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sweet Arnold


It will never be the most attractive plant in the yard.  It is not the brightest yellow nor the sweetest smelling.  In fact, if Arnold Promise showed its flowers in April or May we wouldn't give it much of a glance.  But what Arnold Promise does is to give us yellow blossoms with a lovely smell that really brightens up our January or February days.

Arnold Promise is a witch hazel hybrid, Hamamelis x intermedia so it is not a true native plant.  But it thrives in our mountains and gives us so much pleasure with the promise of spring.  (Wonder if that's why it's called Promise?)

The blossoms are not as prolific as Forsythia but right now it's the only thing blooming


 Our Arnold Promise is about six years old and about eight feet tall.  It is not a pretty shrub when it is little and unless a gardener tells you about it, you would not think to buy one.  They have bare twigs in the nursery since they will have already blossomed before the nurseries open for the spring.  Like an ugly duckling, it grows more attractive as it matures.

 Sweet witch hazel fills the air


 Arnold Promise is a slow grower and nurseries usually prefer plants easier to propagate.  So poor Arnold is not often seen and when he is seen, he tends to be overlooked amidst the more colorful plants.

 A true plant for the senses

Witch hazel has been used for centuries in many cultures.  The extract from boiling the bark and roots makes an ointment that is soothing for rashes and burns.  Barber shops used witch hazel as an astringent after shaves and hair cuts.  And the branches of witch hazel are the best ones for dousing (or divining) water.

But never mind the uses for witch hazel.  The thing that Arnold Promise delivers to us year after year is the wonderful sweet smell and bright yellow color of spring in the dead of winter.  And for that we are indeed grateful.


14 comments:

Vicki Lane said...

Dang! Another year gone by and I still haven't any witch hazel planted. I do have a winter jasmine that blooms very early -- but there's no fragrance. MUST get a witch hazel!

Ms. A said...

I've never seen that. Wonder if we have it here?

joeh said...

This is a new plant to me. Isn't it nice how nature lets us know the seaspons are about to change.

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

Smart lady...I am glad to hear about this plant. Maybe I'll live long enough to plant one somewhere!

robin andrea said...

That is such an interesting plant and flower. Reminds me that my father used to use witch hazel for burns. I would have never thought of it as a flowering plant.

Arkansas Patti said...

New to me and sounds charming. I will Google this to see if it will grow in the Ozarks. Thanks.

KB Bear said...

I've never heard of that shrub. Thanks - it does sound like a wonderful sight in the middle of winter. I doubt it grows here but I'll look!

Carolina Linthead said...

Oooohhh...that reminds me to begin checking for snowdrops and buttercups on the back road I sometimes take on my way home from school!

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

I agree with you -- witch hazel is a wonderful sweet shrub. I have always though that witch hazel was a native of the U.S. -- barbara

troutbirder said...

Interesting but right now, at minus fifteen forecast for tonight, I'm have a hard time relating to the concept of anything blooming in February...:)

Busy Bee Suz said...

I'm a sucker for an ugly duckling. :)

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Vicki - Yes, Arnold would love your neck of the woods.

Barbara - You are right. Several witch hazels are native. But Arnold Promise is an Asian hybrid.

Troutbirder - You have really had it rough. My daughter in WI says she has run out of expletives to describe the weather.

Lise said...

I'll have to see if we have Sweet Arnold around our cabin, I'm not thinking so. If not, it's definitely something to add to our surroundings.

Regenia said...

Oh how interesting! I would not have known any of this! We live just outside Wilmington, NC so I doubt it would grow here in the sandy soil?