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Jelena Sunrise

Jelena witch hazels have been having an incredibly good year with more blooms than ever and a fragrance to match. Yesterday morning the sunrise was so pretty that I had to stop and admire it before I even got the trash all the way to the curb. It made the perfect orange-tinged backdrop for the witch hazel’s crinkly blooms.

It’s been like spring this week with temperatures in the seventies — always cause for celebration as far as I’m concerned, especially in February. Besides the witch hazels, hellebores are looking great, early daffodils are starting to pop, Professor Sargent camellia has some burned edges on older blossoms but plenty of fresh new blooms, and periwinkle is lighting up the feet of the daffodils with its particular shade of pale blue.

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

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