{'D' is for...}

 D is for the deliciously fragrant Daphne odora.

This darling does tend to break my heart though. One minute she is looking gorgeous the next she has dropped dead for reasons otherwise unknown.Her heavenly fragrance more than makes up for what can be a short-lived love affair though.

Again my fascination with Daphne probably has much to do with the fact my Mother had it as her wedding bouquet. A sweetly simple posy of the softly pink and white flower heads. With these as your wedding flowers there is no need to wear perfume.

You can enjoy these beautiful flowers from mid-winter to late spring.

One of the biggest issues which may lead to problems is over-watering. Daphne plants detest wet feet and will turn their noses up toot-sweet to let you know - their leaves will droop, appear limp, and feel dry and leathery. It is best to water then allow to dry out - the ol' finger test is perfect: stick your finger in the soil if it comes out dirty = don't water, if it comes out clean = give a little water! Ensure the planting position is well drained, build the site up if necessary and add plenty of organic matter to clay soils to help break up the clods of soil which can lead to water-logging. They like an easterly position where they will receive morning sun but are protected from the hot afternoon sun. Apply mulch to keep the roots cool.

Water stress can also lead to pest infestation such as scale. These little critters seem to have a radar that senses whenever a plant is under stress. Squash them with your fingers or suffocate with an environmentally friendly white/pest oil solution such as Eco Oil.

A very exciting newish release on the market is the Daphne Eternal Fragrance. This variety is said to be bred to be a much more hardy plant which is frost and heat tolerant. It will grow in full-sun to semi-shade and will become drought tolerant once established. It blooms from spring to autumn, spot flowering throughout the year. I'm definitely going to give this a shot in my garden as a low-growing hedge in place of buxus. Hopefully it won't go breaking my heart!

The Daphne genus is said to be named after a nymph in Greek mythology. The story goes that Daphne was very beautiful and was often pursued by many suitors who would fall in love with her because of her beauty. However, Daphne was uninterested in love and would choose instead to hunt in the woods. One such suitor was Apollo, the sun god. Upon being chased she prayed to her father - Peneus, a river God, to save her. Apparently his tactic was to change her into a Bay Tree! - Daphne being Greek for Laurel.

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