Winterhazel’s Soft Yellow Sunshine

Winterhazel flowers

We planted our two Winterhazel shrubs about 15 years ago in moist, semi-shaded spots. I don’t remember which species we bought anymore, but because the bushes are now fifteen feet tall and ten or so feet wide, I’m guessing they are either Corylopsis glabrescens or C. spicata. Whichever species they are, they are thriving.

I apologize for the less-than-ideal photo of a flower cluster. We pruned up the shrubs, and all the branches are far over my head now.

Winterhazels are Asian members of the Witch Hazel family. Theoretically, all Corylopsis species have fragrant flowers. However, I’ve never managed to sniff a hint of scent out of them, and my sniffer is pretty sensitive.

Our Winterhazels grew larger than we expected. One now obscures our view of a bird feeder during the summer months when its crinkly bright green leaves fill the branches. But when the shrubs are covered in masses of hanging yellow flower tassels, all is forgiven.

Many yellow flowers seem to bloom this time of year, but I especially enjoy the softer yellow of Winterhazels. Unlike the almost brassy orange undertones of yellow forsythia, Winterhazel flowers are more akin to the true yellow of daffodils, offering bits of dangling sunshine high on bare branches.

If you’re in the market for a springtime yellow-blooming shrub larger than forsythia and winter jasmine, consider the Winterhazels. Make sure to plant them in a relatively moist location, give them plenty of room to grow, then sit back and enjoy this care-free shrub well adapted to southeast piedmont gardens.


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