February plant of the month

If you are looking for a specimen shrub to perform during the winter months, then you can’t go wrong with witch hazels

Hamamelis 'Arnold Promise'Hamamelis × intermedia 'Arnold Promise' AGM is one of the denser cultivars of witch hazel, growing up to 4m x 4m (13ft x 13ft) in about 20 years. A thicket of cheery sulphur-yellow, spidery flowers appear on the bare twigs in January and February, and they also have a lovely fragrance. 

It is a perfect plant for woodland style in a shaded border; its vase-shaped form providing year round architectural interest. Best planted in well-drained, acid to neutral soil, the bright green summer foliage provides a simple backdrop to herbaceous perennials, so plant at the back of an informal border or in a cottage garden.
 

Planting combinations

At RHS Garden Rosemoor 'Arnold Promise' combines happily with Skimmia japonica 'Redruth' in the Winter Garden; the large bright red berries contrasting with the yellow flowers of the witch hazel. As a ground cover, yellow and green variegated sweet flag (Acorus gramineus 'Ōgon') contrast in form with the ‘elephant ears’ of Bergenia 'Abendglut'. These plants all flourish under the shade of a mature Prunus sargentii. Other plants you can use for under planting include Daphne laureola subsp. philippi, snowdrops, hellebores and Pulmonaria angustifolia 'Azurea'.
 
Autumn foliage of Hamamelis × intermedia 'Arnold Promise'In the Upper Woodland Walk ‘Arnold Promise’ is planted amongst evergreen shrubs such as hollies, but other evergreen combinations could include Camellia and Sarcococca cultivars which flower at roughly the same time. In the arboretum, lovely silver birch trees - Betula utilis var. jacquemontii 'Doorenbos' AGM, provide an accent of stately white trunks. In the autumn, the leaves of 'Arnold Promise' turn to striking fiery shades.
 
In the Cherry Garden, we have planted ‘Arnold Promise’ at the back of the border, in front of the clipped beech hedge. The russet-brown of the beech leaves and the yellow flowers of the Hamamelis are a lovely winter colour combination.
 
Hamamelis × intermedia 'Arnold Promise' AGM provides interest for much of the year. Its compact shape makes it an excellent shrub for a small garden, especially among woodland planting.

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