What blooms earlier than forsythia, has a delicate fragrance and is an easy-to-care for compact delight ? It is also hardy to USDA Zones 6-9 and native to Japan and Taiwan.
Buttercup winterhazel (Corylopsis pauciflora)
Toward mid April (depending where you live), the bare branches of buttercup winterhazel hang with inch-long clusters of soft yellow flowers that appear as little lanterns.
The fragrance is noticeable, making it perfect near a sitting spot. It was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM) in 1993.
Winterhazel (pauciflora)is good in a small city garden or as a woodland underplanting in open shade.
It glows in front of evergreens and is a perfect pairing with purple Rhododendron mucronulatum since they flower at the exact same time.
And winterhazels look wonderful with snowdrops and hellebores!
As the flowers fade, the leaves unfurl to 3 inches long, bright green with red edges before darkening to rich green. In fall they turn a gold-bronze.
This species is compact and is the ideal choice for a small garden. Plant in spring, in well-drained, acid soil, in a spot with light or dappled shade. It will tolerate full sun with regular watering in the summer. It needs little pruning.
Branches of Corylopsis pauciflora are best collected in February for flowers in early March, up to two weeks before their normal bloom season.
C. pauciflora can be hard to find, but well stocked nurseries will carry it. Look for it in Spring!