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Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane'

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane'. Image: JerryHarpur

The Woodland Garden at Hyde Hall is always renowned for its colourful display during the spring.

To enliven the area early in the year before the rhododendrons and camellias burst into flower we have included winter-flowering plants such as Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane'. In early January its curled petals gently unfurl in shades of dark orange, filling the cold air with beautiful scent.

Vital statistics

Common name
Witch hazel
Family
Hamamelidaceae
Height & spread
4m (12ft) x 4m (12ft)
Form
Deciduous shrub
Soil
Moderately fertile, moist but well-drained, acid to neutral
Aspect
Full sun or partial shade
Hardiness
Fully hardy

Hamamelis

This genus contains five or six species of deciduous, winter-flowering shrubs, found in woodland margins and riverbanks in eastern Asia and North America.

The leaves are alternate, broadly ovate or obovate in shape and they provide attractive autumn colour. The flowers are fragrant, spider-shaped, yellow or reddish with strap-shaped petals, clustered on the bare branches from winter to spring. The fruit is a horned capsule containing two shiny black seeds.

Witch hazels make good specimen plants and are also effective in groups in a shrub border.

Hamamelis is the Greek name for a plant with a pear-shaped fruit, possibly the medlar.

The twigs are a favourite choice of water-diviners. The bark and twigs of H. virginiana supply the pharmaceutical witch hazel.

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane'

This hybrid is of garden origin and is a cross between H. japonica and H. mollis. The name intermedia means intermediate in colour, form or habit.

This large shrub has bright green leaves up to 15cm (6in) long that turn yellow in autumn. In early or mid-winter it bears fragrant, yellow, dark red or orange flowers, with crimped petals, on the bare branches.

'Diane' is a broad-crowned, large deciduous shrub of open habit, with broadly oval leaves turning red and yellow in autumn, and deep orange-red flowers in mid and late winter.

Cultivation

  • Grow in moderately fertile, moist but well-drained, acid to neutral soil, in full sun or partial shade in a site that is open but not exposed.
  • Pruning requirements are minimal: remove any crossing shoots in late winter or early spring to maintain a permanent, healthy framework.
  • Honey fungus and coral spot may be a problem.

Propagation

  • Graft cultivars in late winter or bud in late summer.
  • Sow seed in containers in a cold frame as soon as ripe. Germination may take a year or more, and cultivars do not come true.

AGM

The RHS Floral B Committee awarded Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane' an Award of Garden Merit and described it as:

"Broad-crowned large deciduous shrub of open habit. Leaves broadly oval, turning red and yellow in autumn. Flowers deep orange-red."

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