Plant of the Week: Jelena Witch Hazel

The copper string-like petals of the Jelena witch hazel blooms on the High Line. Photo by Steven Severinghaus

The High Line’s planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees — each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line’s rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today.

This week we share with you one of our gardeners’ current favorites.

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If you have visited the High Line recently, you may have been surprised to see the colorful blooms of Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena,' commonly known as Jelena witch hazel. Mid-winter, when most other plants are dormant, this hearty shrub produces copper-colored flowers with delicate string-like petals.

Jelena witch hazel is a hybrid woodland shrub known for its vibrant fall foliage and wintertime blossoms. This particular cultivar is a hearty garden variety that was created by Belgian botanist Robert de Belder and named after his wife, Jelena.

Fun fact: The twigs from witch hazel plants are the favorite choice of water-diviners. Their slender branching stalks are perfect for creating the forked water-finders.

On the High Line between Gansevoort and West 14th Streets, and between West 20th and West 22nd Streets.

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