Thursday, April 28, 2011

Daft for Daphnes

I remember fifteen years ago or so when my ex (that's Gwen Moore) started buying every daphne she could get her hands on. I thought she was a tad daft at the time: do we really need that many daphnes? They are expensive and come as tiny rooted cuttings. Of course, with time, you realize that's the only way to grow daphnes.

And grow they have! the last ten years they have been sheared repeatedly by Laporte Avenue Nursery, By Sunscapes, By Mike Bone of the Botanic Gardens...and a few others too. Hence their delightful compactness. They would bloom quite well...and then last year no one came. They had enough cuttings from their own plants, perhaps. I reminded them in the springtime, but everyone was too busy. I reminded them again in the fall: big projects at all these places precluded the yearly haircut. So my poor daphnes spent a year unsheared...

And they liked it! In the picture above, the small white one on the left is Daphne x hendersonii 'Ernst Hauser' (A hybrid of Daphne petraea and Daphne striata). The big one on top is Daphne x susannae 'Anton Fahndrich', (a hybrid of Daphne collina and D. arbuscula) and the more sprawling one on the right is Daphne x schlyteri 'Lovisa Maria', a hybrid between Daphne cneorum and D. arbuscula.

This is another view of the two larger ones, from the front, with 'Lovisa' on the left and 'Anton' on the right.

I think the garden now boasts over 60 species and selections of Daphne, and a Wikstroemia to boot (and I've just gotten seed of Dirca). And that's not nearly enough...I ascribe to the philosophy that one can never have enough thyme nor Thymeleaceae in one's garden. I confess I'm daft!

The lines from my very favorite English poem (Marvell, "The Garden") ring ever so true....

"...Apollo hunted Daphne so

Only that she might laurel grow

And Pan did after Syrinx speed

Not for a nymph but for a reed.

What wondrous life in this I lead!

Ripe apples drop about my head;

The luscious clusters of the vine

Upon my mouth do crush their wine.

The nectarine and curious peach

Into my hands themselves do reach

Stumbling on melons as I pass,

Insnared with flowers I fall on grass..."


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