Spring wouldn’t be spring without the intoxicating scent of Daphnes wafting though the garden, spreading its perfume far and wide from the small but very prolific flowers.
Although at home in our gardens, it’s not the natural home for this plant, it was grown from a seedling of ‘Gurkha’. Gurkha was collected by Major Tom Spring-Smyth in 1962, 3200m up on the Milka Banjyang ridge, East Nepal. It was from this collection, Ålan Postill, Hillier Nurseries propagator now for over 55 years, selected this form and named it after his wife Jacqueline. It was given a First Class Certificate by the RHS in 1991.
It makes a medium size shrub up to 9ft in about 8yrs. The light purple flowers are borne in from as early as January until late March, early April depending on the winter. Although it is classed as a evergreen shrub, the glossy oblanceolate leaves can fall off during a very cold winter, making people worry they have lost the plant. Grown from Cuttings it can make a a suckering shrub, up too about 5ft wide. It will grow on most soil types including chalky and clay soils, most important thing is the soil doesn’t dry or too much in the summer or indeed get too waterlogged. It will take being in shade as well as the sun. One thing it hates, well the same with all Daphnes, is to be moved once they are established, they sadly won’t make it, there’s a good reason for that, the feeding roots for Daphnes are on the end of the root system and once severed it can’t feed itself and they don’t tend to produce any new feeding roots. They also need a little tlc for the first few years until they are established, this little need has had them labelled as being difficult to grow. One other thing to watch out for, they are notoriously weak on their own roots, so best not planted in a windy spot, also may need some staking when older. They also do have a short live span, living 15yrs or so before dying. In the spring it’s worth giving the plant a little feed of vitax Q4 and a mulch of compost. They really don’t like tough pruning and tend not too respond to it that well, best way to prune them, is to thin back the branches back to new shoots or an older branch. Best done after flowering in late April.
It also has a close link to the Plant of the week, last week the Edgeworthii, not only is it in the same family Thymelaeaceae but the bark on the Daphne bholua is also used to make a rough paper in its native home of Nepal. Indeed the inner fibres are also put to very good use in making a rough rope. The whole plant may indeed be poisonous but that doesn’t stop it being used in Nepelense tradional medicine for the treatment of fevers.
It can be seen almost in every public garden with the Plant Heritage National Collections being held In Hartford, Cheshire by Mrs D Fields. It is quite easy to buy from most garden centres