Winter Hazel Revisit-

To keep on our schedule of posting about this slow-developing specimen every 4-5 years, we are now due for episode three…

This knobby Winter Hazel (Corylopsis spicata) was an old bonsai that had seen better days when it arrived in the garden in 2011. I did a post about it back then, and then a follow up five years later, in 2016. Since then we put it in a box to speed up development, and now it’s about ready to go back into a pot.

Enjoy our progression of photos-

The Winter Hazel in 2011. Sometime before 2011 it had lost one or two major trunks in the middle of the clump—leaving pretty big holes in the design. Being a shrub, the older trunks are the first things it wants to kill off when under stress.

2016. The trick in keeping older trunks alive is to convince the shrub it’s actually a tree, by limiting the growth of the lower, younger, more energetic shoots that constantly arise from the roots and trunk base. And yet you’ll notice that several of those shoots have been allowed to develop into trunks to complete the design.

2020. The new design now emphasizes the oldest trunks in the group. These might be called ‘ring’ trunks, forming a half circle in the front and to the right. Smaller trunks fill in the middle and left side—developing those was the work of the last ten years. If grown too hard, though, these younger trunks could weaken the older ones…so, a delicate dance, and why it took so long to get here.

Detail of base.

Branch detail—the large greenish buds will open into dangling yellow flowers in the early spring.


  1. Ray Norris says:

    Very nice progression Michael. Thank you for the post.
    Merry Christmas to you

  2. Skipp Serrano says:

    Nice work. Goes to prove that in bonsai as in life, patience and commitment are the operative words.
    Love your work. Whenever I feel frustrated, I go to my archive and look at your work and there I always find inspiration.

  3. Robert B Currey says:

    Thank you for all you do and then the willingness to share with us!

  4. Stephen Liesen says:

    I love the base, nebari, and once again want to ask it’s age which is supposedly a tacky thing to inquire. I’ve been growing some winter Hazel clumps for 15 years and know how slow the base grows. Ramification has been difficult also. If you’re trying to work on improving your patience, I suggest growing this tree.

    • crataegus says:

      Ha, yes, this is a slow one. To be honest I’m really not sure of the age, I’ve never seen a base like it, 14″ or so. Given the degree of older trunk loss and regrowth on this one, I’m guessing 60-80.

  5. crataegus says:

    We all should have bought more!

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