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Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata'

Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata'

During the slightly warmer days of February many winter flowering shrubs burst into bloom. Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata' is such a shrub and its small pale purple flowers exude a wonderful sweet fragrance in the Farmhouse Garden area of the Robinson Garden.

Vital statistics

Common name
Gold-edged winter daphne
Family
Thymelaeaceae
Height & spread
1.5m (5ft) high and wide
Form
Evergreen shrub
Soil
Moderately fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soil
Aspect
Full shade to open
Hardiness
Hardy in some areas, may require frost protection in winter

Daphne

There are  about 95 deciduous, semi-evergreen and evergreen species of Daphne which come from Europe, North Africa and Asia. Their natural habitats range from lowland woodlands to mountains.

Daphnes are invariably grown for their delightfully fragrant flowers, but some are grown for their foliage, fruit or upright, rounded or prostrate habit. Some are at their best in the depths of winter, when there is little else to compete with.

Of the deciduous cultivars D. bholua var. glacialis 'Gurkha' displays pink-flushed white flowers. Another daphne that flowers without the obstruction of leaves is D. mezereum, or mezereon as it is sometimes called. A flush of colour appears in late winter through into early spring before the leaves begin to grow. The purplish pink blooms (white in the case of D. mezereum f. alba) cover the spreading stems that can reach up to 1.2m (4ft).

Daphne odora is a rounded, evergreen shrub and another wonderfully scented example that flowers in the winter and early spring. It has clusters of white flowers edged with carmine and darkly glossy evergreen leaves. The cultivar 'Aureomarginata' AGM has leaves with narrow, irregular yellow margins.

There are many other species of daphne including D. tangutica, D. sericea, D. pontica and D. petraea, some of which have been awarded the AGM. The hardiness varies as well as the leaf retention, flowering period and shade tolerance.

Daphnes grow well in borders or in woodland settings and once planted do not like to be moved. They will also perform well in containers. To gain the maximum pleasure from growing daphnes, plant them near paths and buildings where both the sight and scent of their flowers can be easily admired and appreciated.

All parts of the plant are poisonous and skin contact with the sap can cause dermatitis in some people.

Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata'

From China and Japan, this rounded, evergreen shrub with  glossy, dark leaves bears fragrant, deep purple-pink and white flowers, about 1.5cm (1/2 in) across from midwinter to early spring. These are followed by fleshy red fruit.

Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata' AGM has leaves with narrow, yellow margins, and red-purple flowers that are sometimes almost white within.

This low-growing daphne is excellent for the front of a border or over a low wall where its lax habit allows its branches to spill over onto the path. As you brush past you can fully appreciate its rich fragrance.

Cultivation

  • Grow in a cool, lime-free, well-drained sandy loam and a sunny position, if possible, though it still does well in neutral soils and tolerates partial shade.
  • Plants are resentful of root disturbance and should be planted into their permanent positions as soon as possible.
  • Keep pruning to a minimum.
  • Aphids, leaf spot, grey mould (Botrytis) and viruses may be a problem.

Propagation

  • Sow seed in a glasshouse as soon as it is ripe with the pot sealed in a polythene bag to hold in the moisture. Remove this bag as soon as germination takes place.
  • Germination should normally take place by spring, though it sometimes takes a further year.
  • Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle.
  • Grow the plants on in the greenhouse for their first winter and then plant out in spring after the last expected frosts.
  • Take cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel in June or July and put in a frame.
  • Propagation is also possible by the division of suckers or layering.

AGM

The RHS Woody Plant Committee awarded Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata' AGM an Award of Garden Merit for its scented flowers and variegated foliage.

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