Hamamelis vernalis (Vernal Witch Hazel) is a hardy shrub (Zones 5-8) that grows 6-12 feet tall. In the decade we've lived in our home, our specimen has grown relatively unpruned from about 4-5 feet tall to about 8 feet tall, and stands about 5 feet wide.
Pictured here on the back left, witch hazel provides a dense background to summer-blooming perennials.
The leathery, ruffled leaves vary in color from a spring to forest green during the spring and summer months.
As autumn brings cooler nights, the green in the leaves retreats towards the midrib and veins, revealing a brilliant yellow and russet brown edging.
After the leaves fall, next year's flower buds start to swell along the bare stems, hanging in groups, barely distinguishable in color from the bark.
Hamamelis vernalis is one of my personal favorites in the garden, perhaps because of its role as the harbinger of spring. But it is truly a four-season shrub, providing a dense backdrop to the garden during warm weather, and texture and color to the landscape in the fall and winter.