Daphnes - capricious creatures with charisma

Daphnes need a tender touch and they are rarely, if ever, pruned. They also have an annoying habit of suddenly fading away in full glory, yet they are still worth growing, for the heady scent of their flowers are completely intoxicating. The earliest to flower is a Himalayan species, D. bholua, found on high mountain slopes where monsoon rains make summers wet and cool. Various collections have been made in the wild, some deciduous and some semi-evergreen. The deciduous ones are high altitude specialists and very hardy. The semi-evergreens are low-altitude and less so. In their native habitat winters are intensely cold, so these daphnes flower in late-spring. However our warmer climate prompts much earlier flower here.

The most desirable form of D. bholua was not found in the wild however. It was a seedling raised from 'Gurkha' by Alan Postill of Hillier Nurseries. It stood out from all the others due to being completely evergreen so Alan Postill nurtured it and named it after his wife. 'Jacqueline Postill' has become a 'must-have' garden classic. It forms a columnar bush and flowers between January and March, depending on weather. It's easy, although it will die back in severe winters. Like all daphnes it has a lifespan of probably twenty years or so, but the combination of evergreen green leaf topped by mauve-pink flowers is completely unique and irresistible.