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Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Jelena’

Witch Hazel Jelena Blooms

Jelena is a vase-shaped, winter-blooming shrub that grows slowly to a height of around 12 feet. The red-orange flowers are often said to be non-fragrant, but I’ve occasionally caught a mild whiff of perfume. None of the x intermedia hybrids are as fragrant as the native species, but they do have good ornamental value. The odd ribbony flowers stand out in the stark landscape of early to mid-winter, and the fall color is outstanding. One characteristic I don’t particularly care for is that many of the dead leaves are retained until well after the blooms start opening. My shrubs are still fairly small, so I usually just pull them off, allowing the flowers to shine.

Scientific name: Hamamelisintermedia ‘Jelena’, syn. ‘Copper Beauty’

Common names: Jelena witch hazel

Family: Hamamelidaceae

Native Range: Hybrid found at Arboretum Kalmthout in Belgium by Robert DeBelder (whose wife was named Jelena). Parents are the Chinese species, H. mollis, and the Japan

Sarcococca confusa

Sarcococca Flowers

Scientific name: Sarcococca confusa

Common names: Sweetbox, sweet box, Christmas box, winter box

Family: Buxaceae

Nativity: China

Location: Oakleaf Woods, Charlotte, NC

Date: December 7, 2015

Notes: I love this plant! Thick evergreen leaves are tough and attractive, and when sweetbox blooms (in winter!) it is wonderfully fragrant. Flowers are creamy white and they dangle in bunches from every node. After blooming, black berries form, which often persist until next year’s blooms open.  Sweetbox will grow in deep, dry shade, which makes it useful for areas not hospitable to other things. It will tolerate some sun if more water is provided. Mine are planted as foundation plants and get small amounts of early morning or late afternoon sun. I do recommend placing them near your door if you plant them. They are not as large or prickly as osmanthus, but smell just as nice, and stepping out the door to that scent this time of year is uplifting.

Sweetbox Flowers and Fruits

Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery notes that Sarcococca confusa has not been seen in the wild and, in fact, is probably a hybrid of two other Sarcococca species, S. ruscifolia var. chinensis and S. hookeriana var. digyna. Given the variety name, I love how you can see two styles sticking from each of these berries.

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