Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Daphne odora



Growing behind the townhouse of good friends Dan and Nancy on St Luke's Place in the West Village, is what might be my favourite plant in New York City.

Its fragrance literally fills the whole garden. The minute a door is opened from the house, its scent wafts in. It is at the height of its bloom, and while we sniffed it and looked at the garden, sap dripped from a trimmed branch of the birch tree high overhead. The witch hazel had already dropped its yellow streamers and the winter hazel had just a few flowers left on its branches. The azaleas had buds. In neighbouring gardens magnolias, cherries and crabapples were fattening up.

The daphne flowers are small and waxy, and will open even if there is snow on the ground. I associate its perfume with very cold air. The first time I stepped into that garden in winter the scent was so strong that it stopped me; I had never seen this plant before.

It is Daphne odora, probably "Aureomarginata".


  1. Oooh, oooh, is that me? I'll be emailing you!

    But.... do we have flies in the North East? We most certainly do, to my cats' joy, and as we progress North into Scotland, we have the fearsome Scottish Midge, the ruin of many a holiday.

    For those who care, here's a link that tells you more than you ever dreamed of:


  2. Ahhh...such is the powerful tug of memory, I can smell my mother's daphne as I read this.One of the first "proper" shrubs planted in our god-awful pumice wasteland, it spent an entire year behind a double wire barricade.
    (The other proper shrub was Boronia magastigma.You may imagine how I ache in the tropics!)

  3. My last Daphne drowned, but seeing those photos makes me want to do a bit of research and see if I can't find a better place for one. Thanks for the inspiration!


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