The Annual Witch Hazel Watch

December and January were pretty warm, relatively speaking, and I was wondering how it would affect the witch hazel. Last year this plant bloomed on January 15; not this year. My guess is that the plant did not know that it was officially winter. The ground was not frozen at this point.

Witch hazel flower buds. Photographed on January 2, 2021.

February, on the other hand, was very cold and pretty snowy—actually, very snowy for a February. A weather report at the end of the month listed February 2020 as the twelfth snowiest recorded February in this area. It was more January than February weather.

For many days after the February 15–16 storm, there were absolutely no footprints in the snow, except my own.

Looking out the back door. Photographed on February 17, 2021.

Mind you, this is a full day after the storm. Four days after the storm, there were still no signs of life. That snow is alarmingly pristine.

Still no footprints in the backyard. Photographed on February 20, 2021.

What about last year? Was I imagining things? Was it because the weather was so Januaryish? Apparently not; last year there were paths riddling the backyard.

Normal foot traffic in the backyard. Photographed on January 21, 2020.

It was warming up again, and the witch hazel was showing signs of life.

Witch hazel flower buds, just cracking open. Photographed on February 23, 2021.

Now that the days were above freezing, how fast would the flowers unfurl?

Witch hazel flowers starting to unfurl. Photographed on February 24, 2021.

Pretty fast. And somewhere in this last week of February, there were finally a few footprints in the snow.

Witch hazel flowers unfurling. Photographed on February 27, 2021.

It’s warming up. The petals will be sticking straight out within days.

Witch hazel flowers unfurling even more. Photographed on March 3, 2021.

They are slow-motion blow ticklers, but instead of a little noise, they develop a little scent. When it warms up a little more, the scent will become much stronger. What does it smell like? Witch hazel. The scent is very similar to that of the toner.