This is witch hazel, one of the earliest-blooming spring shrubs. It has a delightfully sweet fragrance, and blooms on bare wood, the effect of which has always struck me as somewhat unfortunate – the blooms having to share space with brown, dead leaves, and the blossoms (already naturally shriveled on their own) always leaving one to wonder whether they’re still alive. Over the years, such an unforgiving stance has softened, and I’ve come to appreciate and admire the stalwart shrub, bravely putting out its perfume when there is still snow on the ground. Seen against a backdrop of blue sky, such a luxury in these earliest of spring days, the blooms are more vivid that I’ve given them credit for, and the entire impression is more effective in the sea of brown that presages the green revolution.
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