I’m currently taking active steps (as opposed to actively dragging my feet) on a complete renovation of our front yard. Though we’ve been in our current home going on eight years and have spent several million hours beautifying the backyard, our front yard is largely as we found it: a patchy, weedy lawn; a giant rhodo; and several random perennials struggling to survive in building-rubble soil.
The front yard is small, exposed, shady. The front steps need replacing, and the concrete walk is broken. It’s not out of place on our street, though, and when the backyard is too hot, we sometimes seek shade on this, the east-facing side of our home. The kids like the adjacent grassy boulevard, and over the years, I’ve planted one or two choice things in the front—unable to contain the desire for certain plants and having no other place to put them (even though I’ve tried to wait until I “have a plan”).
One of those plants actually moved with me from our last place: at the time, a tiny shrub the size and shape of a bouquet of flowers. I planted it on the north side of my decrepit stairs, where every spring since, Daphne odora (Winter Daphne) has perfumed the front yard from March through May, welcoming us home and sending us off in a waft of its glorious, heady fragrance. Odora is Latin for fragrant, after all.
We’re all trying to find beauty in the small details right now, but you don’t have to look hard to find the mood-lifting gifts offered by this plant.
Winter Daphne, or Daphne odora, is:
- deliciously fragrant
- a slow grower with a tidy shape
- a good choice for small gardens
- shade tolerant
- winter hardy
- attractive to hummingbirds
- doesn’t require pruning
I’d go so far as to call Daphne odora my favourite evergreen shrub. I love how well-behaved it is, never requiring pruning or deadheading. I love how compact it is, making it a great shrub for a small-space garden. And—if this weren’t already clear, I love its fragrance, which is truly a reason to find joy and hope amidst the chaos.
Do you have a favourite evergreen shrub? What are you finding joy in right now? Hope you are staying well, friends. xo