This site is for people who like plants -- growers, enthusiasts, aesthetes, novices and professionals, those who appreciate wild things and those who appreciate the cultivated. I garden in Chelsea, and I've been visiting people's yards for 20+ years in the course of my work. My goal is to make this blog a community project, so if you share my interests, please consider becoming a participant and contributing content -- Guerin. Info:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Talking about Daphne

Daphnes are so wonderful and yet so flawed. Easiest for me is the 'February Daphne,' Daphne mezereum. It will flower in March or April here, filling the air with sweet perfume. I have the white form, which produces lots of babies from its poisonous seeds. The flower of the species is a lilac color.

The internet tells me it's an old-fashioned plant. The internet also tells me that its common name is 'mezereon.' Or 'spurge laurel.' Or 'garland flower.' Since I've never heard any of these combinations of words, I conclude they're all wrong.

Did I say 'flawed?'  Daphnes have crummy roots. The plants flop over. They're hard as heck to move without killing them since fibrous roots are either non-existent or ridiculously delicate.  The pictured specimen used to have a bigger base, but it fell over so that the stems were 20 degrees off vertical, so I cut the thing way back. Problem fixed!

D Carol Mackie 'after'
D Carol Mackie 'before'
The most common daphne is D. 'Carol Mackie,' which you'll see on campus and around town. Also nicely fragrant, and with nice variegated leaves, it is sometimes used as a low hedge. Well, mine started to sprawl and flop (maybe it's my soil?!) so today I cut it down to little nubbins. Return to this site in summer and I'll post an updated picture.

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