Ivy reveals how nature is nuanced
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Lesson in witch hazels

HamamelisMollisPlusRootstockI’m sure that at about this time of year, you’ve come to expect an enthusiastic post about American native witch hazel. There was one back in 2007, and also one in 2009. There’ve been more. Well this year – not quite. American native witch hazel – yes. But with a twist.

The picture shows our rapidly growing Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Pallida’; its has large, bright yellow spidery spring flowers. Here, on its spreading branches, you see its fall color on the wane and turning biscuit brown before it finally drops off. But, in the middle, on a very vigorous and absolutely vertical shoot which is only a couple of years old, are some bright yellow leaves.

That bright yellow foliage does not belong to H. x intermedia ‘Pallida’. It’s foliage on growth which has shot up from the rootstock on to which is ‘Pallida’ is grafted. A scattering of small flowers opened not so long ago to confirm that the vertical growth is a shoot of H. virginiana - the American native witch hazel, H. virginiana - on to which varieties of the spring flowering Asian witch hazels are grafted.

So not only is this ‘Pallida’ an impostor without its trade mark strong scent, as I remarked last year, but its rootstock is threatening a takeover.

Where are those pruners?

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