Sunday, 14 February 2016

Witch Hazel


When walking along a country lane a long, long time ago, my father pointed out a curious looking shrub to me. He told me that it used to have beautiful, large daisy like flowers, but that a witch had touched it with her wand and made the flowers all gnarled and twisted, and that because of this it's now called a Witch Hazel. Looking at the flowers, it's an easy story to believe as a child, and whenever I saw one, I would be on the lookout for a witch hiding in the undergrowth somewhere.

Of course, the Witch Hazel has never had anything remotely to do with witches. The title 'Witch' coming from the old English 'wych', meaning bendy and pliable, as it's wood was used for water divining. In my younger days of long survival hiking in the wild moors and mountains, I would liberally apply a gel of Witch Hazel to my damaged and sore feet on returning home. The recovery was quite extraordinary, and we always have a preparation of some sort in the house even now.


It's used as a remedy for all manner of ailments and conditions, and there is even research into it's use to cure MRSA now, as it has certain cell damage inhibiting qualities. We have several in our garden, and so for now I am spending the afternoon making a tea from it's bark, and when cool shall apply it to some areas of eczema that have appeared on my back. I'll let you know how it goes.


As a gardener for the last forty years, I have grown to enjoy this shrub more and more, and never cease to marvel at it's beauty at such a dull time of year. I really can't understand why there isn't one in every garden. It grows in virtually any well drained soil, as long as it's not too alkaline. North, south, west or east facing, it cares not, and once established pretty much looks after itself. How can anyone resist them?

12 comments:

  1. I just read your post to my wife, we are headed out in a few moments to purchase one. I have always wanted one but they are quite expensive for anything larger than a gallon sized container. But between your post and her blessing I will soon have one.

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  2. Hi Doc,
    Well what do you know? Please do let me know which variety you go for in the end. All the best to you and your wife.

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  3. That sounds like an interesting plant and good with its' healing properties.

    Have a great week ~ FlowerLady

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  4. Thanks Lorraine. It's quite unusual in every way.

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  5. There's far more to plants than just green leaves. The ancient people were aware of what the plants did healthwise.

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    1. I believe that the Canadian Indian tribes used it a lot Red.

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  6. Amazingly, I don't think I've ever seen a plant, although there is usually a bottle of miracle liquid amongst my wife's other Witch's healing stuff.

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    1. They don't seem to be in many gardens at all Cro, but would look great just left to grow in your spread.

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  7. Adagio for Strings is one of my favourites, too. There is so much healing in plants, in nature and we need to spend more time looking into how to harness this power. I shall certainly look out for a space to plant a witch hazel in my small garden.

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    1. Hi Marianne, nice to have you here. I find Samuel Barber and gardens go well together.


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  8. We had a bright yellow witch hazel in our last garden and it was always the first welcome bit of colour to appear at the start of each year.
    It seems that you have your father to thank for your interest in horticulture, his storytelling alerting your interest and imagination in plant life. My father and his elder brother, my Uncle William (who grew the tastiest black grapes!) started my love of gardening. I still have plants in my garden that came from them, cuttings that have moved with me from house to house.
    I'm also very interested in your herbal remedies, perhaps your German heritage gives you an advantage here, Gary. The Germans are way ahead of the British in sound alternative practises, my practitioner's equipment and treatments all come from Germany!
    Sorry to read of all the thieving going on in Bournemouth. It is so depressing but great to have your spirits lifted by the thoughtfulness of a friend.

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  9. Lovely blog!!! Adagio for Strings is one of my favourite music ... I have played it for 30 years now ... in February and in October ... the months of one of my daughter's birth and death ... gardening is short and furious here in Central Alberta, Canada ... what ever will grow will grow ... ce sera sera ... smiles ... 100 frost free days is not much to grow anything, but I maage to harvest some carrots. beets, and sumtimes even beans!!! smiles ... Love, cat.

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