Almost everyone is familiar with snowdrops, those wonderful little bulbs that pop up as soon as they can, but there is another early spring bloomer, Hamamelis or witchhazel. A shrub not commonly found in nurseries, grab it if you can find it. It has clusters of yellow to bronzy red flowers with strap shaped petals that bloom in February to March here (some varieties bloom in the fall) and many are highly fragrant. They form handsome vase shaped to spreading shrubs that have the additional feature of excellent orange red to glowing yellow fall colours. Hamamelis intermedia has some of the best varieties. ‘Arnold’s Promise’ has bright yellow fragrant flowers with rich yellow to orange yellow fall colour and can grow to 20ft. ‘Diane’ has deep red flowers and ‘Pallida’ is very early with pale yellow highly fragrant flowers. Hardy to zone 5, mine survived last year’s severe winter with temperatures down to -30deg C. Hamamelis virginiana is a native hazel that blooms in the fall and is hardy to zone 3. They make wonderful understory shrubs growing in full sun to dappled shade.