February daphne (Daphne mezereum) is blooming now for me–before the forsythia, before any rhodos, before my spicebush. My February daphne is still a baby, given to me by Deborah Banks when I visited her garden last year. Look, it’s not much more than a twig:One sniff was enough to convince me that every cold climate gardener should have this shrub in their garden. It is reminiscent of an old-fashioned rose fragrance but with something more.
Obviously February daphne doesn’t bloom in February here, but it is a very early bloomer and hardy to USDA Zone 4. Because I had seen mature shrubs in Deborah’s garden, I could recognize them in Quebec City when I visited there.Brian Bixley also grows daphne in his garden. There is only one reason why you would not want this in your garden: the berries it produces are quite poisonous and if you have small children, you may wish to wait until they are past the age of putting everything in their mouths. Daphne mezereum is easily started from seed–that’s why Deborah had seedlings to share–and is being monitored in some areas for potential invasiveness. You may wish to check with local authorities to see if it is problematic in your area.
I can hardly wait until my little seedling puts on some size and has enough flowers that the scent wafts on the air. What a treat for so early in spring!
Opening photo copyright Deborah Banks and used with permission.