Shrubberies sometimes get overlooked when we’re busy oohing and aahing over all the beautiful blooms shooting up around the garden. Lift your head a little and you’ll notice that there are plenty of lovely shrubs that have lots to offer. Daphne is one such plant, and it has no problem holding its own in the garden. Daphne’s small clustered flowers pack a wallop of fragrance that can easily fill an entire garden with a sugary citrus scent. Daphne typically blooms in mid-February so it is sometimes referred to as the “romance plant.” (A word of warning, though: some varieties of this pretty lady are also pretty poisonous, and its flowers, leaves and berries should not be planted or kept near children or pets. Similar shrubs like azaleas and rhododendrons are also toxic and caution should be used when choosing a planting location.)
Originating in China and Japan, daphne gets its name from a character from Greek mythology who was turned into a laurel bush to escape the amorous attentions of Apollo. With such a worldly back story, it’s fitting that this shrub can grow in a variety of environs and climates. As a child visiting her grandparents in Australia, Alethea’s memories of daphne come from the giant bush that bloomed beneath her bedroom window. Her grandmother would place a tiny posy of the fragrant blooms on her bedside table, and the scent would waft its way into her dreams as she slept. Now the scent of daphne transports her back to her grandmother’s garden. Always excited to find more signs that spring is just around the corner, Alethea’s mum, Kay, tipped us off that there was an amazing Daphne odora bush in full bloom nearby her office this week. We headed over to the Oakland to photograph it and couldn’t believe how many flowers were covering it. Kay was as excited about the daphne as we were, brought a little too much indoors and ended up with a headache from the heady aroma. Just one small snip of these flowers is enough to fill a room with a delicious fruity scent, so don’t go nuts if you decide to bring some daphne indoors; sometimes less is more.
Some professional gardeners we spoke with told us that ignoring daphne is the best advice when trying to grow it. This shrub hates to be moved, so once you choose a location, that’s where she’ll want to stay. Because it is slow-growing, daphne also does well in containers and can live in the same pot for many happy years. It’s best to water your daphne once every few weeks or as little as possible in the summer months, and don’t water at all during the winter months. Expect a daphne plant to live from eight to ten years from planting, after that it’s cells cease to regenerate and the plants can die without warning. For exposure the daphne plant prefers dappled sunlight best. These little flowers perfectly compliment larger bouquets and arrangements filled with flashy flowers that may be light in the fragrance department. Tulips and ranunculus are great to look at, but don’t really have a whole lot to give as far as scent. A few daphne accents will have heads turning before they even land eyes on your flowers.
CLICK HERE for more beautiful Daphne images after the jump!