Let’s play connect the dots. This game will take us from the early days of Haverford College…..New Paltz, NY……botanical gardens and backyards around the world. Albert and Alfred Smiley Class of 1849 built the now National Historic Landmark, Mohonk Mountain House in 1869. Built in the Victorian style, just 90 minutes north of New York City, it has remained under the guidance of the Smiley family. It is one of America’s oldest family-owned resorts.
The eastern witchhazel, Hamamelis virginiana is abundant in the woods of the northeast extending south to Missouri. A number of years ago a red form of this native fall blooming witchhazel was found growing on the Mohonk Nature Preserve. What sets this apart from the norm (yellow petals) is that the petals are burgundy/red at the base and diffuse to yellow at the tips and it is lightly scented. They begin blooming in late October and continue today. I have planted Hamamelis virginiana and Hamamelis virginiana ‘Mohonk Red’ side by side at the northeast corner of the Gardener Athletic Center for easy inspection. ‘Mohonk Red’ was introduced to commerce by the Arnold Arboretum and has become a nice addition to the autumnal palette of blooming shrubs.