If you walk by one of our gardens this time of year and have a swaft of fragrance over take you, chances are it is the Daphne odora. My neighbors have been known to hike into my woods sniffing for the diminutive flower with variegated leaves. Once they do, they are hooked and want one for themselves.
The nickname for this plant is “odor of the gods” and boy does it fit. An added bonus is that the flower is a pretty white and pink bloom that when cut, does beautifully in the house.
Another cold weather treat that blooms pink and is first in the winter garden is the “Dawn” viburnum. This can have a quirky shape that does not stand out as a flowering shrub, and does not grow quickly. You only need one or two flowers however to bring the sweet fragrance inside. This year with the warm winter temperatures it popped forth in December. As I cut some stems to take inside I whispered …”Not yet! It’s too early.”
The third “must have” winter flower that is the Hellebores or Lenten Rose. These I plant en masse of 6’s or 12’s to create an evergreen winter anchor in the garden. The whites, pinks, purple and even black of the Lenten rose flower are stunning.
The other variety dubbed Foetida or “Stinking Hellebores” is a bit rangy but does great in the woods as a ground cover. Both of these varieties reseed.
The care for the first few years of these plants is absolutely nothing but water.