I don’t get too excited about flowers, at least as a reason to buy a plant. But if there’s a time when it matters, it’s winter. Witchhazels flower early, beginning in January, and are one of the first things to remind you that better days are ahead.

On Arbor Day last year, I purchased a hybrid witchhazel (Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’) at Wells Medina Nursery, after becoming intrigued by their spreading habit. Of the many colorful and fragrant hybrids available, my wife and I chose the ‘Diane’ cultivar for its red. They’ve just emerged for the first time—only about seven or so—and they’re as unique as advertised. Red-orange and papery, crinkled like a real life party popper.

Great plants and so many wonderful choices, but few customers are in the garden centers to purchase them. A dilemma, to be sure. Every garden needs a witchhazel. — Dirr’s Encylodpedia of Trees & Shrubs

Two weeks ago I spotted a spectacular witchhazel in full bloom, while driving to the University of Washington. Returning home I pulled over to get a picture. The tree is probably close to full-size, and it looked like it had been pulled out of the ocean, covered in yellow sea urchins.