Gotta Garden

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Fragrant Shrubs: Winter Daphne

Count me as one of their biggest fans. Even though, yes, I, too, have suffered through "Daphne Death". Even though last year voles killed my gorgeous 'Carol Mackie'. You only have to smell daphnes to know you want them!

They first came to my attention while checking out of a local nursery when I lived in Washington State. "What is that incredible smell?", I wondered aloud following my nose to a flat of six (just six) on a counter. "That's all we have," said the cashier. And, knowing they wouldn't last the day, one immediately came home with me. I didn't know anything about them. Nothing about their...difficulties...shall we say. Good thing. I just planted it and enjoyed it. For two years...and then we moved.

That first daphne was and is still my very favorite, Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata'. Here's the one in my backyard (yes, I have one in the front yard, replaced Carol Mackie...and I have a couple others...but, we'll talk about them another time):

(Click that photo for blooms you can...almost...sorry...smell)

It is...right full glorious bloom! The leaves are a bit ragged (we did have a cold winter, you know...and there are still a few cold nights ahead, it looks like...a bit later in the week), but they'll be replaced with fresh ones. You walk outside and...oh my! This shrub (knock on wood) is a survivor. Summer before last, a window box full of geraniums (don't ask) fell smack on top of it. I grieved for days. I was sure all was lost. And, yes, it has lost most of the back of the shrub...but look at it! It's still going strong! Not a beauty for one would deny the power of its fragrance. I wish I could put a scratch and sniff here for you!

Okay, here's what I think is the secret (besides the usual....good soil, good drainage, etc.)....ready? Don't and I mean don't even think of digging anywhere near your daphne once you plant it. Want bulbs near it? Do it at the same time. No root disturbance! (Hear that voles??????)

I'm taking a chance here. The last two times I have bragged on daphnes (forgive me, but it's not ME, but them...right?)...they (the ones I specifically spoke about) both immediately died on me. Yeah, there were the voles...and uh, the silly plant I decided to plant next to one...but, still...

So, we'll just pretend I never said a thing. Okay?


Yolanda Elizabet said...

You said a thing? Really? Colour me confused. ;-)

The Daphne odorata's are wonderfull for scent in your spring garden. It's really and truly absolute erm bliss!

BTW Glad to read that this particular Daphne has survived a bombardment of geraniums. ;-)

Gotta Garden said...

Hey yolanda elizabet! I just didn't want to get up this morning and find that this daphne (or any other I have) had mysteriously know, Daphne Death....when they just up and die on you for no apparent reason. I am not usually superstitious...

Anonymous said...

I have a Daphne in my front yard and is growing great. Normally, my entire cul-de-sac enjoys the frangrance. This year it is full of blooms but no smell what so ever! We are in a major drought. Could this be the problem? Do you have any suggestions on getting the frangrance going?

Anonymous said...

Where can I purchase winter daphne (daphne odora)? I live in Fredericksburg, VA. Thanks

Anonymous said...

I was told this would be a good shrub to plant under a Black Walnut tree. Is this true? There is an axiom that says, "Nothing grows under a walnut tree". What do you recommend?

jck said...

I also heard that nothing grows under a walnut tree, but everything I put in under the walnut trees grew beautifully. I had two walnut trees in a small yard, and I had a great vegetable garden. I also made a plantation of German bearded Irises of all kind. They looked like a thick wall of irises this spring. Coral bells, hydrangeas, Chilean jasmine, and many others grew very well there. I just moved from that house to a new place a few months ago and hope to make another garden to enjoy.
I bought two daphne odoratas today. I haven't tried to grow these before. I heard they are short-lived. I hope they won't die on me like my gardenias.

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