The name ‘Daphne’ always makes me think of Joyce Grenfell, whose innocent, comic monologues of a teacher with children are a big memory from childhood. I first bought a little Daphne in 1991 at Greenbank Garden, Glasgow, and it travelled with us in a pot until it finally settled in Linlithgow in our shady, moist back garden. The one I bought was Daphne mezereum ‘Alba’ and, being a slow grower, it took a few years to get going. Each year, more flowers appeared until 7 years or so later, it reached about 0.75m wide and high. In early spring, and lasting for about 4 weeks, the vase-shaped bare branches were covered top to toe with gorgeous smelling small, dainty flowers. The scent travelled for yards and yards. It was a delight. After that, it was a pretty, but unexceptional vase shape of greenery, but it had, after all, done its job.
This photograph, thanks to www.alpinegarden.co.uk, could be of mine!
It was an entirely forgiving plant, happy to be left to its own devices. In fact, they hate being tweaked or moved, so best left. For that reason, the Daphne stayed behind in Linlithgow when we moved. I would have been prosecuted for plant cruelty otherwise, as it would have hated Tostat.
So, back in Tostat, I decided to buy a small, only about 6 inches tall, Daphne Aureomarginata and put it in a quiet, semi-shaded spot not far from the back door. Eleven years later, it is a handsome 1m x 1m and flowers to bust, from late January till mid March, whatever the weather. The smell is wonderful, sweet and with woody notes, and it drifts in the breeze just as in Scotland. This Daphne flowers with evergreen leaves remaining throughout the winter, all with wobbly cream edges like a child’s crayon outline.
So, I whooped when I discovered that a new Daphne has been bred which takes dryish conditions and sun, and what’s more, blooms in summer, apparently July-August. It’s rather grandly called Daphne x transatlantica ‘Eternal Fragrance’, a touch on the grandiose side. But that was that. Another purchase made. But this one will be a real investment, as July and August can be a slightly bald patch depending on what’s gone over, and what’s got going. So what could be better than a small, sturdy, suit-yourself, shrub with greenery, flowers, and oh…that perfume? So, when it arrives, it will go into a slightly sunnier spot across from the winter flowering one, and let’s see….
By the way, I noticed that Crocus have a great delivery price- £4.99 for all orders, flat fee, to most parts of the UK. Blooming marvellous. And the link to Joyce Grenfell goes to one of her monologues, perhaps more than a little dated now, but charming all the same, and she had a wonderfully elastic face that, of course, you can’t see.