Introducing Early Scent to your Garden
January can be a dull, sleepy month in the plant world and in the garden, but Daphnes are fantastic as they inject life, scent and early spring colour everywhere they’re grown.
It’s the one plant that utterly stops me in my tracks as we check on plants across January and prepare for the busy spring season ahead at CountryLife Garden Centre.
The Beauty of Daphnes
Daphnes are a group of evergreen and deciduous shrubs that have a heavenly scent that seems to linger for hours in the air when the flowers open. While daphne shrubs produce attractive looking berries, which offer great Autumn interest, their real beauty is the attractive spring flowers and the sweet scent they give off.
Daphne is that plant that you smell much sooner than you will notice it in a garden. The scent has an ability to waft through the air and reach every part of the garden.
Planting and Caring for Daphnes
I like to plant it strategically in my garden so that I brush past it as I make my way around the garden. Similar to witch hazel, daphne plants flower on last year’s growth. Therefore, you should be careful and avoid pruning the shrub back too hard in autumn. This may result in very few flowers the following spring. I always recommend that people wait until after the shrub has finished flower before pruning it.
Daphne will work extremely well in either a small garden, as they can be kept small and compact, or in a larger garden where they are allowed to grow into larger shrubs.
The most important thing with these plants when planting them is to make sure the ground is free draining. They don’t like soil which is prone to water logging. They are also very well suited to woodland settings or in a garden under deciduous trees.
Two varieties of daphne are proving very popular with customers at CountryLife. Mezereum Rubra (sometimes known as February Daphne) has vivid pink flowers that really stand out in a flowerbed in early spring.
The flowers appear in early February and last right through to the end of March, if not longer. The flowers are then followed by very attractive red berries that look great too.
Odora is another great Daphne which has much more subtle pink flowers. This variety has a very strong fragrance. It is so strong that in Korea, where the plant is native to, it is called “churihyang” which translates to a thousand mile scent’ which gives you a good indication to just how strongly scent the flowers are.