Spring is on its way to Willowwood! Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) and snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) are out in full force now, especially in the Cottage Garden and the Rockery. The Cottage Garden looks as though it is covered in a bright yellow carpet: winter aconite has naturalized beautifully there. Crocuses are just beginning to make an appearance; a few have just opened on the lower slope of the Rockery.
Now is also the perfect time to spot witch hazels blooming at Willowwood. Perhaps the most impressive specimen here is Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’, which sits just outside the Cottage Garden along the drive, directly opposite the Conservatory. Its flowers appear a warm coppery orange from a few feet away, but on closer inspection reveal themselves to be red at the center, orange in the middle, and yellow at the tips. The petals are delightfully crumpled, like partially unfurled paper party horns at a child’s birthday celebration. It is easy to see why this lovely selection from the Kalmthout Arboretum in Belgium was given an Award of Garden Merit (AGM) by the Royal Horticultural Society.
Another witch hazel that should not be missed isHamamelis vernalis ‘Fragrant Star’, which can be found in the Winter Garden adjacent to the parking lot. It is covered in golden yellow flowers, which true to the plant’s name, give off a pleasant, spicy scent. Several other witch hazels in the Winter Garden, like H. xintermedia ‘Primavera’ are still in bud and will open over the next few weeks.
Stop in the Conservatory to see a gorgeous display of Cymbidium orchids. These plants are now covered in dense sprays of bloom in several shades of purple and yellow. See if you can also spot the more delicate, tubular flowers on Lachenalia bulbifera, a South African bulb from the Western Cape.
Plant Records Specialist & Propagator