The grow-anywhere Mock Orange remains ever popular, but it is in many ways a very ordinary looking shrub, redeemed only by its sweet, orange-blossom scent which it releases for a few brief weeks a year. It is one of those smells that takes people back to their grandmothers' gardens and, for some, this is reason enough to give it house room. For others, whose garden space is limited, plants need to earn their keep a little better.
Fortunately, there is a golden form of this much-loved plant, Philadelphus coronarius "Aureus", with bright, lime-green to golden yellow foliage in addition to its white, scented blossom. It needs careful positioning in dappled shade to maintain its colour, for in strong sunlight its leaves will scorch and heavy shade will turn them green.
The Winter Daphne, Daphne odora, also appreciates light shade. It has been grown in this country since 1771 and is one of the most fragrant shrubs of late winter and early spring. Graham Stuart Thomas describes it as "perhaps the most penetratingly delicious of all scented shrubs - a fruity, exhilarating scent to inhale deeply again and again".
The flowers that give off this fragrance are purple-pink on the outside, paler, almost white within and in especially hot, dry summers may turn into small, yellow fruits. They are carried among laurel-like, evergreen leaves which in this variety, "Aureomarginata", are edged with a line of gold. Daphnes are hardy enough to withstand fairly severe frosts, but they like shelter, especially from winds. "Aureomarginata" is stronger growing than its non-variegated relatives, hardier and a little freer with its flowers.
To complete this fragrant grouping, underplant the shrubs with perhaps the most beautifully scented of all British native plants, Lily of the Valley, Convallaria majalis. It flowers in late spring, its waxen, drooping bells standing out clear and white against broad, lush, glossy, green leaves. For fatter flowers, flowering slightly later, and broader foliage, plant the variety "Fortin's Giant". Both can be rampant growers.Reuse content