Signs of Spring Poke Through the Snow

Don't despair, Edmonds! Believe it or not, today's melting snow is uncovering the first early signs of spring.

As this week's dump of snow begins to melt, these yellow flowers of witch hazel (Hamamelis sp.) were seen poking through in an Edmonds garden (see accompanying photo).

Witch hazel, one of our earliest flowering shrubs, provides a note of colorful encouragement after our recent spate of winter weather. Depending on the variety, it produces yellow to slightly reddish flowers. Common varieties include Hamamelis virginiana native to the east coast, and the Chinese witch hazel, Hamamelis mollis. These and various hybrids are commonly available at local nurseries.

And yes, this is the same witch hazel that shows up in many over-the-counter medications. The extract of the bark and leaves, also called witch hazel, is quite astringent. It is used medicinally to help shrink and contract blood vessels. It is a common ingredient in aftershave lotions, lotions for treating bruises and insect bites and various medications including acne treatments and some eye drops.

I'm just back from a week on Hawaii's beaches. I literally cried when the plane landed and I saw the snow.

Maybe some witch hazel would help dry those tears.


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