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Articles - Issues Of Home Economics:

In April, the Judas tree is a cloud of pink blossom. You can't help noticing it, because the
Young pulmonaria flowers are bright pink. After a few days they turn violet and then vivid blue.
Hazel catkins are worth close inspection, although, if you suffer from pollen allergies, you might
Winter jasmine, as its name implies, flowers in mid-winter – not because of climate change or
Many members of the Cucurbitaceae family – which includes courgette, pumpkin and cucumber –

Tough shrub with autumn colour and lovely winter flowers

Hamamelis blossom appears in winter, the flowers are delicate bunches of gold or red strands. They look especially attractive in winter with a crisp cap of snow. But appearances are deceptive, hamamelis is a tough shrub capable of withstanding frost and cold. The hamamelis is sometimes nicknamed the "magic nut" because of its small nut-liked fruit that take around a year and a half to ripen. This long ripening time means that you will see nuts and blossom on the plant at the same time. The name hamamelis derives from this habit: "Hama" comes from a Greek word meaning 'at the same time' and "Melis" signifies 'fruit', in other words fruiting and blossoming at the same time. When the nuts do eventially ripen, they snap open explosively often shooting the seeds several metres. If you're lucky, you could even hear them.

Attractive and scented

It's not only the nuts that mature slowly, the whole hamamelis plant grows very slowly. This partly explains why they are relatively expensive to buy from a nursery. It will look best in your garden as a single specimen, standing alone in a prominent position where you can appreciate its structure, its round green leaves in summer, its orange, gold and fiery red autumn colours and its sweet-smelling winter blossoms. Hamamelis scarcely needs pruning.

Witch hazel – astringent juice

Several species of hamamelis are native to North America. The American Indians boiled twigs and branches to extract the astringent witch hazel which they used to heal bruises and swelling. Today witch hazel extract is used in a variety of skin ointments and has many medicinal uses.

Source: Anne Staeves, www.aid.de