Many daphnes with their colourful flower clusters and their sumptous scent are invaluable garden plants. And then there are those with variegated foliage which, if they retain the vigour of their green-leaved counterparts, are amongst the finest of all garden shrubs. Now step forward an improvement on one of the most popular variegated daphnes.
Daphne odora has the colour and the scent. ‘Aureomarginata’ features the addition of a very slender yellow edge to every leaf and, strangely, has proved hardier than the green-leaved original.
Daphne odora Rebecca (‘Hewreb’) has the flower colour, the fragrance and is blessed with a much broader yellow edge to the leaf so that the foliage colour really makes an impact. It flowers at a valuable time of year – January to March – and then its foliage brings colour to the garden till the end of autumn.
Found in Devon as long ago as 1989 by nurseryman Steven Watson, there is uncertainty as to exactly how this plant was discovered. It is said that he first noticed a branch on a plant of ‘Aureomarginata’ that had a much broader yellow margin to the leaf and that he propagated it in 1993. It is also said that he spotted the plant in a pot on a market stall and bought it. (If I get a definite answer, I’ll let you know.) Either way, it’s taken till now for enough stock to be created so that it can be made available.
Basically, its broad and colourful yellow edge to the leaf is the only way in which Rebecca (‘Hewreb’) differs from ‘Aureomarginata’. But that extra coloring makes real impact. The plant is modest in size, 4-5ft/1.2-1.5m, so with its three impressive appeals – flower, fragance and foliage - it’s an ideal plant for small gardens.
Daphne odora Rebecca (‘Hewreb’) is available from the Plant Centre at RHS Garden at Wisley, and from Strikes, Squires, Wyevale these garden centres.