Plant of The Month: February 2021

Plant of The Month: February 2021

Our team are always on the look out for new developments in the gardens. Each month, our Living Collections Manager, Graham, will be sharing some plants of interest with us.

Daphne laureola

Prompted by the runaway success of Netflix’ series Bridgerton and one of its key characters - Daphne Bridgerton - our February choice for plant of the month is Daphne laureola. It can be found on the banking adjacent to the path through the woodland glade to Calvary pond hinting to its possibly having been part of the original Thomas Mawson planting scheme, in line with his favoured use of native flora.

Also known as spurge laurel this unassuming evergreen shrub can initially be mistaken for a rhododendron. It can grow to 1.5 meters in height displaying glossy dark green leaves produced in whorl arrangements. Tiny clusters of scented yellowy green flowers appear in winter and early spring, their fragrance being stronger in evening time. Don’t be deceived by its meek appearance; all parts of Daphne laureola are toxic, including the seeds, causing irritation to the skin and airways, and in Canada it’s listed as an invasive as it outcompetes native plants in some areas.

Returning to the world of drama Daphne Laureola is a 1949 play by Scottish playwright James Bridie about a young Polish refugee's infatuation with a middle-aged married English woman, made into a 1978 film starring Joan Plowright and Lawrence Olivier. The play’s title is derived from the Greek myth of Daphne, a nymph who asked to be turned into a laurel tree in order to escape the unwanted attentions of the god Apollo.