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Surprising bicolored vine

Perfect fall flowering shrub – but it doesn’t exist yet!

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Ripe Corn'. Image:© Thinking about those witch hazels I was blogging about yesterday I began to wonder. Compared with the winter- and spring-flowering Asian witch hazels - H. mollis and H. x intermedia - the flowers of the American native H. virginiana are quite small and only mildly scented. What we need is a plant with large scented flowers, like the Asian ones – but which flowers in the fall. So why not cross the fall flowering American witch hazel with the spring flowering Asian species?

Doh! I know, I know –They flower at completely different times of year! No problem. Both Ruth Dix at the US National Arboretum in Washington and Peter Dummer, formerly propagator at Hillier Nurseries in Hampshire, England, have stored pollen in order to cross these two groups.

Hamamelis virginiana. Image:© Seedlings have been created, I’m told, and are being assessed. But, as far as I’m aware, no seedlings from this cross have yet been named or been available to buy. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.) And of course it’ll take a few years for the seedlings to flower. Or perhaps the hybrids flower sporadically for many months and never have much impact? What we need are plants which are as large-flowered, colourful and fragrant as the Asian species – but flowering in the fall.

But the really big question is this: how can I illustrate a blog post about a plant that doesn’t yet exist? Answer: by illustrating the two possible parents. Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Ripe Corn’, at the top, and H. virginiana (with thered foliage of Euonymus alatus background) lower down.