The leaves of the Hamamelis mollis has some similarities with that of the hazel. Acquainted with the practice of dowsing the first colonists of North America called it the witch hazel when they were confronted with the Virginian Hamamelis. 

Drifting continents

The beautiful flowering shrub in the Ante Chambre our garden however has its origin in China. There are more shrubs and trees of the same species to be found on different continents.  Therefore this could be evidence that Asia was once connected to America. Halesia Carolina (Silverbell) is family of the Styracaceae has its origin in North America.  Yet the other snowbell Styrax japonicus comes from Japan.

The yellow ribbon shaped petals from Hamamelis mollis
Photograph by Frank Fritschy

The citron yellow ribbon-shaped petals of the Hamamelis mollis in our garden started to flower a few weeks ago but at this moment it is in full bloom and it bright yellow forms a nice contrast with the brown withered leaves of the beech hedge.

“On Jekyll’s garden designs the name Berberis aquifolium is still to be found”

Detail of a Gertrude Jekyll plant scheme

Oregon grapes

Our Mahonia japonica is still recovering from its transplantation a few years ago. It is still leggy but after manuring last summer it rewards us with more flowers. In spring I will prune this shrub to encourage new growth from the base. Mahonias (Oregon grapes) are very similar to Berberis (barberry) shrubs and the only difference are the compound leaves.  On Jekyll’s garden designs the name Berberis aquifolium is still to be found. Botanists later changed this is in Mahonia aquifolium. This shrub is originally from North America. Unlike its name suggests the Mahonia japonica is not native to Japan and its origin is unknown.

There are a few nice and rather unknown Mahonia’s which are offered on the internet.

Mahonia eurybracteata soft caress sends up its long slender foliage without a single thorn. This small shrub which not exceeds 3,5 feet has spikes of fragrant, lemon yellow flowers bloom from fall through winter. Most noteworthy are the  silver-blue berries that follow the blooms