Plant of the Month: February

Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’

by Sue Gray

February can be a rather miserable month in the garden; whilst there are signs of hope of things to come, a plant that really ‘does its thing’ at this time of year is extremely welcome, and Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ is just that.

Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’

Daphne bholua is a species of shrub from Nepal, where it grows in the Himalayas and other mountain ranges to a height of 3,500 metres.  There are a number of named varieties but by far the most freely available is ‘Jacqueline Postill’.  This may be because it was bred by Alan Postill, a ‘Master Propagator and Plant Breeder’ at Hilliers, who named it for his wife, and was presumably distributed by them.

It is a slender, medium sized shrub reaching to about 2.5m in height, which is described as ‘semi-evergreen’.  In the milder winters that we are now experiencing, I find it reliably evergreen which, if as happened mid-January this year, there is a heavy downfall of snow, the branches can be weighed down, causing the stems to splay out if the snow is not removed soon enough.

Flowers appear as deep pink buds, opening to pale pink/white flowers which emit a lovely perfume.  If, as we sometimes do, we get a ‘balmy’ February day, the scent can be appreciated throughout the garden, but even on not so good days, at closer quarters, the fragrance is lovely.

The only downside I have found with the shrub is that it can sucker quite freely.  I have lifted several and potted them up, but to date they have not grown much.  Andy McIndoe recommends severing the root from the parent plant and leaving to develop its own root system before lifting the new plant, but I am never patient enough, which probably explains why mine do not flourish.

Daphne bholua ‘Jacqueline Postill’ holds the Award of Garden Merit and is, in my mind, a very worthwhile plant in any garden.

Sue Gray

Picture courtesy of the HPS Image Library

P.S. This plant has been the subject of a previous Plant of the Month blog by Jane Orton –  if you would like to see it, click here

Some of the structural plants – and more – in my winter garden

by Brian Denison

I missed the First of January Picture show, obviously not brave enough to face the cold of New Year’s Day, unlike so many of our enthusiastic, fearless members. Having picked a more amenable day, here are my offerings.

This combination of Yew, Phormium cookianum subsp. hookeri ‘Cream Delight’, Hebe and Elaeagnus pungens ‘Maculata’ is a pleasant structural combination in Winter (fig 1).

Fig. 1 Yew, Elaeagnus pungens ‘Maculata’, Phormium and Hebe

In Christopher Lloyd’s book ‘The ‘Well Chosen Garden’ the latter was described as having the inelegant habit of side shoots that grow at every sort of awkward angle from its main branches. Perhaps that’s why it seems to have been replaced with new varieties such as Elaeagnus x submacrophylla ‘Gilt Edge’ and ‘Limelight’, but I like it.

Fig. 2 Front border Jan 2021

Repetition of the Phormium in Fig 2 adds further winter interest.

Fig. 3 Helleborus argutifolius ‘Silver Lace’

Fig 3 is Helleborus argutifolius ‘Silver Lace’.

Fig. 4 Phyllostachys nigra

 Fig 4 is Phyllostachys nigra which I think is looking good but does need the stems clearing again.

Fig. 5 Polystichum polybretharum

Fig. 5 is Polystichum polyblepharum, one of my favourite evergreen ferns.

Fig. 6 Photinia serratifolia ‘Pink Crispy’

Fig. 6 is Photinia serratifolia ‘Pink Crispy’

Fig. 7 Equisetum hyemale

Fig 7 is Equisetum hyemale. I am including this plant because I like it as an architectural feature but not its habit of sprouting lots of small offshoots from the tips and sides of the stems. Last year I had a large pot bound specimen which I thought of discarding but instead I divided it and potted up a couple of divisions.Some time later I cut the potted plants down to the ground and the picture shows the resulting new growth. I am pleased with this result and now wished I had saved a third specimen.

Fig. 8 Ilex aquifolium ‘Golden Queen’

Fig. 8. This is the stem of a large standard Ilex aquifolium ‘Golden Queen’ which I planted as a shrub over 25 years ago. I trained it as a standard to add height and to indicate the extremity of the garden. I really like the new cream shoots that have appeared near the base of the trunk, presumably due to lack of light – a bonus.

Fig. 9 Underplanted conifer

Fig 9 I underplanted the conifer Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Plumosa Aurea Nana’ with Carex morrowii ‘Ice Dance’ since it is tough and tolerates shade. It has survived amongst the roots of the conifer where other plants have failed. It is accompanied by Chiastophyllum oppositifolium ‘Jim’s Pride’.

Brian Denison