We only grow a few types of daphne in gardens although there are many more known species. Most are grown for their fragrance, rather than any spectacular display. D. genkwa is different. Once established, it is as spectacular as any flowering shrub in the garden and in a most unusual hue of lilac blue. Because it is deciduous, all you see in late winter or early spring are arching branches smothered in the prettiest of displays. The individual flowers don’t even look like the usual daphnes, being larger, more delicate and of different form with a long corolla or tube.
What it lacks is a strong scent. In fact I didn’t realise it had any scent at all until I put my nose right amongst the flowers. This one is grown for its looks. Genkwa is renowned for being difficult to propagate so is not widely available. It is generally done from root cuttings. If you can find one, plant it somewhere with plenty of space to grow – maybe two metres all round to accommodate its arching growth. I killed an established specimen by trimming it after flowering one year so the replacement plants, bought at some expense, will be left entirely to their own destiny. It has fine, light foliage so when not in flower, is just an anonymous border shrub.
First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.