Tuesday, March 6, 2012

An "A" for Effort

Arnold Promise witch hazel

After two summers of leaf blight, the witch hazel in my front garden (Hamamelis x intermedia 'Arnold Promise') started pushing out electric yellow blooms this week.  While more limited in number than previous years, the blossoms are just as beautiful and sweetly fragrant as any year I can remember.   You have to applaud a plant that lost most of its leaves to a fungal infection in midsummer (during the height or chlorophyll production and energy storage) and still puts on a winter show.  

I think I have narrowed down the leaf fungal disease to phyllosticta hamamelidis.  Thankfully, none of my other Arnold Promise witch hazels nor the Chinese witch hazels have caught this disease yet.  I've already enlisted the help of a tree service to help prevent this fungus from taking hold again this season. Improving the health of this mature shrub will be a priority.  Since this shrub is not willing to give up, neither will I.  


Laurrie said...

I applaud your efforts to keep Arnold going! I love witch hazels but have had disappointment with mine. 'Diane' has been in my garden 7 years and can only push out a dozen very tiny blooms, no red haze, no fragrance. It has been moved, sheared in half by heavy snow load, and it struggles. A similar fate for my H. vernalis. I keep hoping these witches will thrive and begin to grow and flourish in the next decade.

A mature one like your Arnold Promise needs to be kept!

Jeff, Gardener in Chief said...

Fortunately, my winters have been kind to the witch hazels. It's the summer humidity that seems to be the bigger problem. I'm not one for heavy chemical treatments, so curing these fungal diseases are not easy.

I have never tried to grow H. vernalis. I think I may look into this shrub as an addition to the shrub border. I saw that some have wonderful fall foliage.

Thanks for visiting my site!

Susan said...

I am wondering if the tree company was able to help with curing/averting the fungus last year. I planted an Arnold Promise last spring and some of the leaves turned brown. Despite this, I did have beautiful blossoms this February. My shrub then pushed out many new leaves which are now turning brown.
Can you help? I don't know what to do & don't want to lose this shrub. It took forever to chose it, and I'm in love!
Thank you!

Jeff, Gardener in Chief said...

Unfortunately, I still get this fungus. Seems to be something that comes annually in spring. They seem to have reduced the effects with some sulfur spray but I still see leaves turning brown this month. I did get blooms again last year. I usually get a second flush of leaves that remain green for remainder of summer starting in mid-June, but hate the look of the diseased plant. The tree experts advise moving this one to an area with more air circulation. They said moist air with out circulating air will continue to feed the fungus. I may move it. Ideally this should be done in fall.

Check out my new website. I moved Hamptons Garden to a new web server at squarespace. Just type address: hamptonsgarden.com.

Good luck.