A shrub with golden blossoms, a witch hazel, is blooming our our street. Some thought it was a forsythia that got it’s dates mixed up, but it is witch hazel, properly known as a Hamamelis, and about the earliest blooming plant in our area.
You have to get up close to appreciate and admire the twirly little blossoms. This is probably Hamamelis mollis, a Chinese witch hazel, because it is blooming in the spring, beginning in February. Our neighborhood witch hazel has been blooming for about a month, enduring several snowstorms and frigid weather.
Arnold’s Promise, the golden spring blooming witch hazel, is one of the most popular with gardeners. It usually grows no more than 12 feet tall with a generous spread. Diane, with its red twirly blossoms is another popular spring bloomer.
Hamamelis virginiana, our native witch hazel, blooms late in the fall. I have to say that I find Hamamelis mollis so encouraging when it bloom in the spring.
Witch hazel is a plant that some of us may not recognize in a garden, but it is quite likely that we have a bottle of witch hazel in our medicine cabinets. It has been used for centuries to soothe various skin problems like poison ivy and hemorrhoids.
A witch hazel branch is also used by dowsers searching for water – or anything else. Experienced dowsers say you can dowse with anything and many of them travel with a dowsing pendulum. Helen, a dowsing friend told us we could dowse with a needle as pendulum hanging on a thread. While living in Maine we successfully needle dowsed to find the underground pipes in our new house when there was a plumbing problem.
We also asked the dowsing spirit where we should move in Maine to find our heart’s delight. It gave us a town midway up the coast, but in the end we moved to New York City. We found our heart’s delight there, too.