Up to Witchhazel, Down to Deer!

Spring witchhazel 'Ruby Glow', an 8-10' shrub or small tree.

Spring witchhazel 'Ruby Glow', an 8-10' shrub or small tree.

Green Thumbs Up to the light, sweet smell of witchhazel.

This year we realized that some people are unaware of the scent, even though spring witchhazel (Hamamelis mollis hybrids) grows in their garden. The problem seems to be one of proximity. You must be near the shrub when the air warms, which may be for only a brief time in the afternoon of a bloom day. It's worth watching for and going out to enjoy.

These witchhazels bloom yellow, red-orange or orange in late winter or very early spring. 'Primrose', 'Jelena' and 'Ruby Glow' are three of our favorites, representing the three colors. Each is that much more endearing because their fall color is the same color and as stunning as their bloom.

The trick may be to look out earlier

Sometimes the shrubs bloom during a winter thaw and the gardener doesn't notice until weeks later. Never fear -- some buds may still remain to open.

Green Thumbs Down to the drudgery of deer repelling

Poking about in the garden in late winter may reveal signs of deer in many suburban gardens -- and even in some city neighborhoods near parks and railways. We've been out twice this winter during thaws to apply deer repellent, and to check that our stakes are in place around young woody plants that are buck rub targets. Neither chore would be bad except that it must be done again and again and again.

We change deer repellents from time to time, having seen deer become accustomed to just about everything over time. We also enclose the highest risk gardens in eight-foot deer fence.

Hamamelis x mollis 'Jelena'.

Hamamelis x mollis 'Jelena'.