The award for earliest bloomer goes not to snowdrops or crocus but to witch hazel, often overlooked but a quiet stunner whose fragrant, coppery yellow blossoms begin to appear in January and February. Sometimes witch hazel is confused with forsythia which blooms much later in spring. The winter blooming variety of witch hazel that we see on the Island is called vernal witch hazel, which thrives in moist coastal climates. The bark and leaves of witch hazel have long been used for topical medicinal purposes to create an astringent. And the branches are sometimes used for dowsing.
But the sight of witch hazel blooming in February is the best medicine of all.