So many of us have large shade trees, and are looking for just the right understory tree or shrub for a wooded area or shaded courtyard. One excellent choice is Witch Hazel (Hamamelis spp). A tall (to 20’) deciduous shrub with arching branches; it may be pruned to the shape of a multi-trunk tree, making a lovely specimen or focal point in the garden.
As a group, Witch Hazels bloom in winter, carrying fragrant flowers with strap-like petals on bare branches. Their foliage is dark green in summer, turning to orange and red in autumn.
We currently have Witch Hazel ‘Diane’ with coral red flowers, ‘Arnold Promise’ with golden yellow flowers, and the species virginiana with bright yellow flowers. All perform well in dappled shade with a little morning sun in deep, rich soil.