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Christopher Wilding

cjnw01cjnw01 Posts: 4
I listened to GQT on 11th January and was interested to hear about the wonderful winter colour and fragrance of witch hazels. About 4/5 years ago, I followed professional advice and bought 2 Hamamelis (I think they were variety Pallida). They were more expensive than other varieties but I wanted to grow them in pots and they had been highly recommended for that. However, while they are beautiful in flower, they are entirely lacking in fragrance. There’s nothing you can do about my great disappointment but I think a warning should have been given during the recent item on the radio that not every variety is fragrant.


  • Silver surferSilver surfer Posts: 4,453
    edited January 2021
    I love Hamamelis and used to grow many different named ones.
    In the depth of winter they lift my spirits.
    Each one varied in the scent.
    On a scent test at a talk, everyone rated them strength and what they smelt
    To me our Arnold Promise was sunshine I could smell it from a long way away..... to me pure fab citrus.
    While my other half could smell nothing.
    I think they may need sun to release that scent.

    Maybe you could visit a garden where different ones grow so you can see which ones you can smell./like

    I also think smell may be like wine.
    Some are super sensitive to what they taste/smell...while others are not.

    Hamamelis are always expensive as they are grafted and are extremely slow growing.
    £30.00 will buy nothing more than a baby  shrub...sparse in branches.
    They were asking £79.99 for a nice shaped mature one in a garden centre near here last Nov 2020.

    P.S. I prune hard to encourage more twiggy growth.
    The more twigs the more flowers.

    Just a thought but if you no longer want them they would probably fetch a lot of money on Ebay. Buyer to collect.
    Find another that you can smell.
    Hamamelis mollis was another fab one.

    See my flickr A -Z album of Hamamelis pics...old garden...South Wales[email protected]/albums/72157675615637133

    Pic below is a baby H.Arnold Promise last year in our new home...
    Taken 28th January 2020.

    Perthshire. SCOTLAND .
  • PalustrisPalustris Posts: 4,113
    I cannot smell them either and we had half a dozen different ones in our last garden.
  • SueAtooSueAtoo Posts: 328
    Always disappointing when that happens, if I'm buying for fragrance I always check in garden centres/nurseries first as I don't like many things recommended for fragrance. Scent is a very personal thing.
    East Dorset, new (to me) rather neglected garden.
  • cjnw01cjnw01 Posts: 4
    Thanks for all your most interesting comments, especially from those of you who have experienced similar lack of fragrance. Sadly, I don’t live near any plant centres that offered the variety I was looking for and I had to buy them online. Checking for fragrance wasn’t possible.  I think I’ve learnt my lesson. I attach a recent photo; visually stunning, I think.
  • I can't smell half the things my friends can, particularly when the fragrance is subtle. I can only smell witch hazel when the flowers are dry and the plants are bathed in sunlight.

    Chris Lane is considered the authority on hamamelis and you might find some helpful advice on his website

    If you live anywhere near Windsor Great Park a number of different cultivars of hamamelis are planted in Chapel Wood, which sits between the rear of the Savill Garden temperate house and Cow Pond. You can visit, sniff them all and find you favourite. I can send specific location instructions if needed. Sadly, you cannot access the Savill Garden at present, which is a shame as there are many fine specimens across the 35 acres. 
  • cjnw01cjnw01 Posts: 4
    Thank you. I’ll check that website. I doubt I’ll get to Windsor GP as I live in North Yorkshire but we do have some fine arboretums fairly close by. 
  • RHS Harlow Carr has a winter walk.
  • cjnw01cjnw01 Posts: 4
  • Silver surferSilver surfer Posts: 4,453
    edited January 2021
    Just had e mail from RHS....Weekly update
    Under winter scented shrubs...... I found this which I thought might be of interest to others... - Weekly Member Newsletter - 21 January&utm_content=MEMBER - Weekly Member Newsletter - 21 January CID_5dabb00c9c5e5da7456f1eb512407c45&utm_source=marketing enewsletters

    Quote..."Finally, the indispensible witch hazels – Hamamelis. This is a case where choosing the right variety is crucial as while many are very brightly colourful, not all are scented. And a word of warning: H. × intermedia 'Pallida' is the best known and always recommended, and if you’re sold the right plant the colour and scent are marvellous. But there are impostors being sold under that name which have no scent, so either shop at a specialist, or choose another."
    Perthshire. SCOTLAND .
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