“Powerfully fragrant” is used to describe the scent of this winter-flowering shrub. Selected as a self-pollinated seedling of Daphne bholua ‘Gurkha’ by Alan Postill of Hillier Nurseries, the name honours his wife – I hope she was very pleased, because this cultivar has since gone on to receive a Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit.
If the fragrance is so compelling (and it is, in the majority of species in the genus), why are there few Daphne species used in the landscape? Two reasons come to mind from what I’ve been told: 1) protocols for mass commercial propagation of many Daphne species have yet to be discovered so current production requires labour-intensive processes, and therefore high prices; and 2) susceptibility to fungal pathogens. UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research’s Dr. Andrew Riseman and his doctoral student, David Noshad, are researching both of these difficulties with an eye to expanding the palette of Daphne species and cultivars available to gardeners. As part of their research, they’ve sourced a number of difficult to find species of Daphne. Many of these species will eventually form the backbone of the planned Daphne collection in the garden.
For gardening information on ‘Jacqueline Postill’, you can read this piece from the Royal Horticultural Society: Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’.
Natural history resource link: The Tucson, Arizona-based The Firefly Forest and companion web site, Wildflowers of Tucson. Firefly Forest was suggested to me by Angus Pratt at the Northern Voice conference, where he and I had a thought-provoking discussion on weblogs being used as natural history journals (with Firefly Forest being a prime example).