February plant of the month

Daphnes are well known for their heady scent and can be found flowering across all the seasons

Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’Here at RHS Garden Harlow Carr we have several different species of Daphne, some of which are in the alpine areas, these flower later in the year, but the ones that you want to be seeing right now are growing on the Winter Walk.

A firm favourite

Over the last few years a group of Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ has come to maturity and are flowering well. Depending on how mild it is they start flowering from mid-January and continue until April. 'Jacqueline Postill' has the RHS Award of Garden Merit and it’s easy to see why, there isn’t anything else to rival its incredibly strong scent. Because of this it is the most well known and readily available, however there are several other cultivars of Daphne bholua that are worth having if you can get hold of them.

Daphne bholua 'Sir Peter Smithers'Earlier in the year, due to the success of 'Jacqueline Postill' I planted six lesser known daphnes: 

  • D. bholua 'Glendoick' (pink-flowered)
  • D. 'Spring Beauty' (pink-flowered)
  • D. bholua 'Peter Smithers' (dark pink buds with paler flowers, see photo)
  • D. bholua 'Penwood' (pink-flowered)
  • D. bholua 'Cobhay Debut' (white-flowered) 
  • D. bholua 'Cobhay Snow' (white-flowered)

Daphnes at Harlow Carr

I have spaced these out along the entire length of the Winter Walk, near to the path edge so that visitors can fully appreciate their delightful scent. Hopefully as they mature you will be able to enjoy the fragrance at any point along the walk. They are already proving to be a real hit and are smelling amazing despite the fact that they were only planted six months ago.

In my experience they have been easy and undemanding to grow, but one thing to be aware of is that all daphnes hate to be moved. To move a Daphne is almost certainly the kiss of death, so the most important thing is to make sure you chose the right spot when planting. They are quite easy going generally, but they don’t like it too dry and prefer their roots to be cool, so mulching regularly is a great way to keep them happy.

I can’t recommend daphnes enough if you want just one plant for winter scent. Unfortunately they can be pricey, this is because they are quite tricky to propagate, but they are worth their weight in gold.

More information

Read more about other daphnes for the garden

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