Witch Hazel Collection Completed
Madison Square Park Conservancy is excited to announce that it has completed its witch hazel collection in early 2019. Park visitors can now view 70 varieties of witch hazel growing throughout the garden beds! Live plant collections are an important resource for scientists because they allow the preservation of plant genetic material. Collections allow a large numbers of plants in the same family to be grown together in similar conditions, which allows comparison of their growth habit, flowering time, and overall health in a controlled environment. Madison Square Park Conservancy’s goal is to have this planting become a nationally accredited collection and one of the few collections existing in an urban park.
The witch hazel collection is comprised of several species of witch hazel including Hamemelis virginana, H. molis, H. x intermedia, H. japonica, H. vernalis, and H. ovalis. Witch hazel plants are most likely to catch your eye in the Park during the winter months when they are in bloom, bringing a burst of color and joy with its shaggy, spidery yellow, orange, purple and deep red petals. Its cluster of flowers grow on shrubs with long, thin branches that vary from 10-25 feet long and can withstand harsh weather conditions in the North. They curl up to protect themselves in very cold weather conditions. You will find a variety of witch hazel in the Park including, ‘Westerstede’, ‘ Angelly’, and ‘Spring Bounty’ ‘Arnold’s Promise’ is among the oldest in the Park. ‘Robert’ brings the dark red color and there is a slightly more orange ‘Jelena’ flower. Witch hazel can have spicy or sweet aromas. Some native species of witch hazel are fall bloomers, baring golden flowers as their leaves begin to show their golden autumn colors.
Most people know witch hazel as a natural topical remedy for its anti-inflammatory properties;. However we suggest you don’t use the flowers in the Park’s gardens as part of you medical care.