Until today, I knew next to nothing about Witch Hazel. I had a vague idea it could be found in a bottle at the pharmacy, but thought of it as something from a bygone era, like cod liver oil. Not that it didn’t have its uses –I just wasn’t sure what those uses were….
But an absolutely glorious day propelled me to nearby Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland to see what might be of interest there. Turns out, there was a great deal of interest, not the least of which was Witch Hazel (Hamamelis). As I came around a bend I noticed a tree (ok, technically a very large shrub) with the most delicate, spidery looking flowers on it. It was striking not only because it was in bloom, but because the flowers were almost ethereal. I bent to read the sign beneath and learned it was a Witch Hazel, something I had not see before. But once I saw that one, I noticed many others, in different colors, all equally stunning. I immediately experienced garden envy. Or perhaps garden regret–there is only so much I can pack into my own small garden, and Witch Hazel will just have to be admired from afar.
Below are a few photos of a remarkable plant, the extract of which helps control blemishes, soothe burns (including sunburns and razor burns) and cuts and bruises, relieve insect bites and itchy poison ivy/poison oak, and relieve tired eyes. Now that I know this, I will certainly get some extract from the pharmacy in the near future, but for now I will feast my eyes on the lovely Witch Hazel flowers and feel glad that I learned something new today.