Tuesday, January 19, 2010
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.
Posted by Pat at 9:28 AM