This past weekend I saw Hamamelis vernalis (Vernal Witchhazel) and Hamamelis mollis (Chinese Witchhazel) in full bloom. Budding in late winter and opening in March, these flowers amid gray branches and an otherwise barren landscape add a wonderful punch of color in the winter garden.
The Vernal Witchhazel, native to Southern North America, with its tiny reddish-brown flowers has a very subtle and elegant hue while the bright yellow flowers of the Chinese counterpart have a louder effect similar to that of Forsythia. Both are hardy to zone 5 and provide good fall foliage color as well. Make sure you give them enough room to grow because both species can easily grow to 10′ high with an equal spread. These shrubs can take full sun, but because they like more protection in winter, I wouldn’t recommend them on a rooftop garden.