Winter flowering shrub with a wonderful fragrance – Daphne odora (Winter Daphne)

Daphne odora in flower January 2018

It is such a shame that a written blog like this cannot properly portray the rich fragrance that some plants yield.  Daphne odora certainly packs a punch.  A small, slow growing shrub with pink flowers, it is perhaps rather insignificant for most of the year.  However, it is worth its weight in gold in the garden in January and February.   Its rich perfume hangs in the air of a winter morning.  Such a pleasure.

A native of China, Daphne ordora is an evergreen shrub that will grow in either full sun or partial shade.  We have ours close to the path near to the back door so we get the chance to take in and enjoy the fragrance every time we pass by.  It likes fertile, humus rich soil that is well drained.

Because it is so slow growing we have not found it valuable for flower arranging.   In fact, the fragrance is so powerful when in an enclosed room that many might find it too intense.

Why do some plants flower in the depth of the winter when most days are far too cold for pollinating insects to fly?  I am glad they do.  Experience here (Warwickshire UK) suggests that it only takes a short period of winter sunshine and the bees are duly summoned by the perfume (evidence below).  Because there are so few plants flowering there will be less competition for the attention of the pollinating insects that do brave the weather.

If you don’t currently have one of these in your garden it is certainly worth having a go.

Evergreen shrub

Family:  Thymelaeaceae

Origin:  China

Hardiness:  RHS hardiness rating H4 (Hardy through most of the UK (-10 to -5))

Toxicity:  Poisonous

Honey Bee on Daphne odora on 28 January 2018
Honey Bee on Daphne odora on 28 January 2018 (Warwickshire UK)

 

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