What a Charmnut
"And autumn proudly bears her matron grace."
-Percy Bysshe Shelley
I asked a search engine to translate a French article I found on the net about Witchhazels. It translated Witchhazel as "Charmnut." Somehow that seemed such a sweetly apropos name.
Each September, our big-leaved charmnut turns the brightest possible streaky red & orange, & ages to a fiery scarlet in October. Granny Artemis said it looked like hot coals glowing. I think it is like kids threw every shade of red paint all over the shrub. The first photo from Autumn 2002 captures the deep, startling color.
There are more photos of it in this "hot coals" phase on the Witchhazel Page of the Autumn Leaves Gallery, with another autumn leaf portrait on the page about Medicinal Usage of Witchhazel.
In some years the color never quite turns to the fullest red because a week of extremely hard wind & rain will sometimes clear the limbs of all leaves before October's end. The second portrait shows this differing appearance, & there are two more portraits showing its color changes for that year (2003) in the Autumn Leaves gallery linked above.
Our specific cultivar is Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena,' sometimes sold as 'Copper Beauty.' It is a hybrid of Chinese & Japanese witchhazels. There are other varieties of this hybrid but 'Jelena' is one of the most highly esteemed for its autumn russets & fiery reds. The American native, H. virginiana, is a vastly more subdued yellow in autumn, though itself an awfully cool shrub or tree, with a striking perfume lacking in the Asian varieties.
We expect 'Jelena' will never exceed ten feet tall & take an awfully long time achieving that, though 15 feet isn't impossible; it's presently only about four feet tall & five feet wide.
The witchhazel goes through remarkable year-round changes, & we have a separate page for the striking multicolored spidery blossoms that appear mostly in January, well ahead of the leaves in spring.
At the left is a close-up taken in early December after all the leaves had fallen & before buds start opening, showing an old witchhazel nut still clinging from the previous year.
The charmnut meets my requirements of all-season interestingness, a helpful contributor to the woodland path look we prefer above tame gardens.
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