Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Edgeworthia chrysantha




The edgeworthia chrysantha has begun its slow creep toward spring -- I noticed this morning that some of the silvery parasols have begun to swell a little, possibly because of the warmth of the past few days. The first picture is taken today, while the second (assuming Blogspot agrees with my placement) was taken last February.

I planted this shrub on the bank in my front garden about seven years ago and it is the only plant in my garden which is guaranteed to bring people knocking on the door to ask what it is! It is, mesdames and messieurs, edgeworthia chrysantha, the Japanese paperbark mulberry and a relative of daphne -- as one expert told me recently, "a daphne which lives". It is handsome rather than pretty and has a science fiction quality in winter when its reddish stems are bare except for the silver-grey buds. It wants to grow as a multi-stemmed shrub -- about 6 feet high, with a similar spread, and is not too picky about soil and light. Mine is planted in partial shade against the background of a large American holly so as to put it into relief. Its summer foliage is dull green and its buds form sometime during the summer so that when it changes to butter-yellow in autumn, the buds are there waiting for spring.

Its greatest glory, for me, is its scent -- daphne-like, wafting around the neighbourhood in gusts. When the little umbrellas open, the flowers are an intense orange-yellow as you can see in the last photos. It is uncommon in my area, and I love to watch people stop dead in front of it and scratch their heads before coming to ring the bell and ask about it.

6 comments:

susie said...

Ooh, they are so beautiful & different. I've never seen them before. Thanks for sharing.

Rosella said...

Susie, it is really an interesting plant. Thanks for visiting!

Carol said...

How lovely ... something sweet to look forward to... I enjoyed your writing too. Thanks for visiting my blog Rosella! It is nice to find your world too. Carol

Joan said...

Lovely, and what fun to bring people to a stop as they walk by! I've seen this plant only in bud in the nurserys but never seemed to get back to see the flower or experience the sent! Thanks for letting me know I must attempt to put one in my zone 7 garden in Washington state too!

Rosella said...

Joan, I'm in zone 7 in Virginia, and it is happy here, so in Washington state you should do really well with it! And it really does intrigue people -- even the neighbour's 10-year-old son stopped me as I was getting out of the car one day! I thought he was interested only in skateboards. Thanks for visiting!

Rae said...

Beautiful. Any chance Edgworthia chrysantha might grow in my Cambridge MA garden, zone 6a?