Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’
This was the first daphne I ever grew so I have a bit of a soft spot for it. While it is not the most spectacular in appearance it is certainly in the top ranks for fragrance and the pale pink flowers that open from deepest pink buds are showy in their way even though they are small compared to the foliage. All but the weakest shoots end in a cluster of these buds that usually reveal themselves in spring as the green leafy scales open. I say usually because I would normally expect the blooms to open in March but for some reason mine has decided to open early this year with the first flowers entrancing me with their sweet, floral but citrussy fragrance already.
Daphne odora is an evergreen shrub, slowly achieving about 1m high and across over a decade or more. Strangely, the hardiest and most common in the trade is ‘Aureomarginata’ which, as the name suggests, has leaves with a yellow margin. I am a fan of most variegated plants but this is not one I would plant for its variegation because it is too subtle. Curiously, however, this variegation seems associated with cold-hardiness and this is supposed to be hardy to minus 10C. Even so it deserves a sheltered spot and mine is in a pot of John Innes No 2 compost.
Daphnes are famous for being finicky and hard to grow but this is one of the easiest to please and although they all hate pruning, this one is at least tolerant of you picking off shoots with flower clusters so you can enjoy the scent of the flowers indoors. No pruning is necessary though.
It is supposed to be happiest in an acid soil but providing the soil is not too alkaline it is not fussy, hence the John Innes compost I put it in.
Find it a sheltered place where it gets sun for part of the day, ideally west-facing, and it will be happy. A sunny, south-facing spot tends to lead to rather yellow, scorched foliage, though it will bloom profusely.
If you have lots of money to splash around there are some newly introduced, very showy variegated forms now available which are very different and are so bright that the flowers almost seem to be over-egging the look.
Geoff’s rating 7/10
Garden rating 6/10