Next to the Hunnewell building, a shrub has been blooming bright yellow for quite a while now. Refusing to wait for spring, certain species of witch-hazel unfurl their petals as early as January. ‘Arnold Promise’ has a little more patience, waiting until the middle of February.
This past Wednesday, the Arnold Arboretum’s Nancy Rose shared the story of the plant’s origin. In 1928, William Judd collected seeds from a Chinese witch-hazel (Hamamelis mollis) growing in the Arboretum. Seven plants survived the germination process but none were like its parent. Judd deduced that the plants were a cross with the Japanese witch-hazel (Hamamelis japonica) planted nearby. The best of these plants, one that did not hold onto its dead leaves and whose flowers had long, bright yellow petals, was named ‘Arnold Promise.’
Arnoldia article on ‘Arnold Promise’ (pdf)