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  • Writer's pictureJulia Watson

Enjoying Winter - Daphne

Updated: Feb 5, 2021

Daphne garden shrub
Daphne - small but oh so fragrant!

Every garden should have fragrant flowers, don’t you agree? My own garden has many scented plants and they vary by season, so I could probably tell you what month it is just by sniffing the air. I plan to write about fragrant plants in the season they bloom, so I’ll have other posts like this. Not too many plants flower in winter, and not many are scented, but luckily there’s one beautiful exception—daphne.

Daphne is a small perennial shrub, evergreen in Northern California and easy to grow. The flowers are not spectacular, but you grow daphne for the scent. In the middle of winter, when you’ve forgotten the lush scent of roses, you step outside to the cold damp garden and suddenly smell something wonderful. The scent is sweet but not cloying. It permeates the air, so you smell it even before you see the tiny pink blossoms it comes from.

But be aware - daphne is also toxic.

If you have small children you should know that eating any part of the plant could mean a trip to the hospital. I removed a daphne and a few other toxic plants when I had small children in my yard, but now that they’re older I’ve brought it back. Mine is at the edge of my back patio, so in winter I can smell it every time I step out the back door. It’s a welcome scent at a time when the garden has died down.

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