An old friend of mine who worked at the Kalmthout Arboretum in Belgium once took me to meet the real-life Jelena many years before i grew to love the witch hazel named after her. It was late summer and Mrs Jelena de Belder, whose husband Robert had bred the plant, was up a ladder at the front of the house picking grapes for teatime…. I did not know then, because it wasn’t their season, that i would fall for the witch hazels quite so keenly, …
Now that I have taken time to grow Hamamelis x intermedia ‚Jelena‘, it is nice to think that Mr de Belder knew a good thing when he saw it. I bought a young plant … and put it in a pot so that it could be bought up close to the house in the dark months. … I quickly found that, as long as Hamamelis are given a little summer shade and never allowed to dry out in the growing season, they are more than happy containerized….
Some plants need light in the flowers and Hamamelis is one. Each twist of petal, like dried orange zest, seems to catch its own ray of light and, when the horizontal branches are illuminated, it is the only plant in the garden you can look at.

dan pearson, home ground: sanctuary in the city

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