If there’s one one that’s benefited from the upsurge of interest in winter gardens, it is Edgeworthia. It’s a plant that’s always been out but never really has ever hit the lime light like it’s richly deserved.
Edgeworthia is a small group of plants of 4 speices, closely related to Daphnes. They are mainly a native of China and Himalayas where it tends to grow in woodlands and shrub areas. It can be also be found naturalised in some parts of Japan. It was first introduced in 1845 and given a Award of Merit by the RHS in 1961. It was named after the person who discovered it, a Victorian amateur botanist and employee of the East India Company, Michael Edgeworth and his writer sister, Maria. Chrysantha is a mix up of a couple of Greek words meaning golden flowers.
It is a small shrub getting up to 2m maximum height with largish magnolia shaped leaves, indeed it was first named as a magnolia many years ago turn a light yellow in the autumn months. It’s not the foliage it’s grown for in the garden or indeed thebeautiful cinnamoncoloured flakey bark that is borne on the older plants, this bark is where the plant gets its common name from, the Paper-bush. In Japan, the bark is used in the production of hand made fine paper mitsumata, this paper is used in the production of banknotes in Japan. It is the highly scented flowers that it is grown for and it is so beautiful, the flower buds hangover the plant like tiny little umbrellas covering the plant, slowly getting bigger as the winter advances, then opening up their golden highly scented flowers. The whole effect of the plant during winter is beautiful.
Garden wise, it prefers a nice deep loamy moisture retaining soil in a nice sheltered spot, it is also a little tender, not liking temeptures to drop below -10c. The soil isn’t too critical, I have one growing in my gravelly soil in Chandlers Ford, for a couple of years now and it’s doing pretty well.
There’s two main forms available, grandiflora, which had larger flowers and leaves and Red Dragon, which as it name suggests, is red.
It can be found in most gardens, but there’s a fantastic grove at RHS Wisley along the newly formed winter walk
Can be brought from most garden centres