Daphne! Daphne!

Early last year I planted a Daphne Odora in the garden, and just recently it has its first bloom. Beyond the joy that comes from signs of prospering plants in a relatively new garden (2 years old), I get an extra kick out of it when they produce an intoxicating scent, and bonus points when they bloom when little else does.

Daphne Odora (sometimes called a “Winter Daphne”) is one of those plants. It’s a small, evergreen shrub that generally has a 10-year lifespan. I have the green-leaved variety, but there is a lovely variegated one with creamy leaf margins. Usually you see them with pale pink flowers and brighter pink buds, but I’ve also seen one with white flowers. They can be a finicky plant — sun, but not too much, good drainage, and they hate to be moved. And sometimes I’ve heard of them just up and dying. But worth it? Definitely. The smell has a citrus note to it, and more mature shrubs that are covered in blooms can scent half a city block.

When we walk around our neighborhood, where Daphne shrubs are quite popular, you turn a corner and the scent wafts over you. Even if you can’t see the shrub, you know it’s nearby. I’ve started exclaiming to my husband, “Daphne! Daphne!” whenever it happens on our walks. Any shrub that inspires me to call out its name when passing by deserves pride of place in the garden!

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