Corylopsis Spicata (Winterhazel)
Tired of harsh yellow flowers like forsythia and King Alfred daffodils in the early spring? Not as common is another shrub that not only blooms at the same time as the forsythia, but has a profusion of pastel yellow, fragrant blooms that will brighten up your garden as winter turns to spring - Corylopsis spicata or Winterhazel.
Corylopsis spicata is by far the most handsome of all the Corylopsis and the earliest to bloom. Beginning in September, pendulous 50mm chains of lemon-yellow blooms appear on the bare branches. They are somewhat reminiscent of wisteria blooms in shape, but on a much smaller scale. The fragrance is spicy and sweet, similar to that of witchhazel to which winterhazel is closely related. New foliage will soon appear, unfurling a dark purple and maturing to a deep blue-green with lightly felted undersides.
It will slowly develop into an attractive, broad mass of horizontal branches, reaching up to 2 m tall and wide. It is a prefect accent in front of a dark backdrop, such as a dark wall or evergreens, and is ideal for border or mass plantings. Corylopsis spicata works well when planted as a mid border planting dressed up with Rhododendrons, Azaleas or Crocus tomasinianus in the foreground - all of which bloom at the same time as the winterhazel.
For best results, plant in the autumn and mulch the soil. Does best in light shade, but will tolerate full sun or up to half shade. Choose a site protected from the worst of the winter winds. Prefers a moist, well-drained acid soil. Water regularly until established, will not tolerate drought so keep well mulched.