Daphne x transatlantica 'Eternal Fragrance' PP 18.361

Daphne x transatlantica 'Eternal Fragrance' comes from the capable hands of Robin White, formerly of well-known Blackthorn Nursery in England. His goal was to better the transatlantica hybrid know as 'Jim's Pride' which was discovered at Environmentals Nursery on Cutchogue, L.I. Named for Environmental's owner, Jim Cross. 'Jim's Pride' offers fragrant white corymbs of flowers beginning in late spring. Flowers continue almost successively all through the growing season. Many years they continued into November until extreme cold nights enforce a code of gradual dormancy. In years with especially mild autumns flowering has continued into December in northeastern Connecticut. 'Jim's Pride' exhibits an irregular, upright rounded habit growing approximately three feet tall with a somewhat wider stance over time. Foliage tends to be matte-finished with a dusty green to blue-green affect.

Even though Blackthorn Nursery is now closed Robin White has continued his sage exploits in plant breeding. Mr. White employed a cross utilizing parentage of D. caucasica x collina. A selected plant worthy of a cultivar name, one that bettered 'Jim's Pride', was subsequently chosen from the progeny. 'Eternal Fragrance' equals D. x transatlantica 'Jim's Pride' in habit and vigor but with more numerous flowers in evidence as they emerge from axils as well as terminally. Also, flower clusters seem a bit larger. Buds display a pink tone. Florets with thick substance open with a pale pink cast and age to pristine white. The perfume is heady, delicious, sweet and strong.

The foliage of 'Eternal Fragrance', too, is improved. The densely set tongues of leaves are deep, glossy emerald green. The leaves are a sumptuous foil for the flowers. And foliage remains remarkably clean and handsome throughout the growing season. As with 'Jim's Pride', 'Eternal Fragrance' blooms freely during the growing season on a well-established shrub studding the very handsome foil of green leaves. There are none approaching its equal in the x transatlantica complex.

Daphne x transatlantica 'Eternal Fragrance' is a patented plant, PP 18.361, unlicensed propagation prohibited. Cuttings came our way through John Bieber, a longtime Daphne aficionado. John loved the genus Daphne in the Thymaceae family and was tenacious in his constant desire to have more gardeners recognize their beauty and worth. Mr. Bieber had been president of the Daphne Society for a time while it was afloat in the U.S. It has long since been abandoned due to lack of interest. In so many of these plant societies it is the very hard work of but a few believers that keep the institution alive. And John was tireless in promoting this group of woody thyme relatives. John lectured. He was one of the instrumental forces in the development of Daphne garden at Planting Fields Arboretum, a New York State historic park on Long Island. John was also very generous in providing Daphne cuttings to interested growers who raise their own propagated stock. And this is how Quackin' Grass became connected.

It was because of John Bieber's friendship with Robin White that a liaison was formed. John wanted very much in his continual quest for mainstreaming Daphne into the world of gardening and our interest at QGN in making this fine introduction more available to potentially interested customers. And the connection was made. Though 'Eternal Fragrance' is a patented plant meaning that a grower must be licensed to produce plants for sale there are sometimes exceptions made. Robin White assented allowance for Quackin' Grass Nursery to grow up to 24 individual plants each year, no more. We have thanked both men kindly for their friendly help and praise their efforts every time we take a cutting off of our shrubs. We also thank Plant Haven, the licensing firm for 'Eternal Fragrance', for their part in the legal completion of the pact.

Though 'Eternal Fragrance' will tolerate part shade our plants have been gloriously happy in full, blazing sun planted in our xeric garden. We added dolomitic limestone to the planting hole plus some soil-less mix, a couple handfuls of dehydrated manure to the existing sand, scrabble and average soil mix. Though tolerant of seasonal moisture good drainage is important.

'Eternal Fragrance' as with 'Jim's Pride' will grow about three feet tall and wide with greater breadth over time. The shrub will settle in and grow quickly as it exhibits hybrid vigor. All Daphne tend to be weak-wooded. Heavy snow loads are notorious for cleaving taller Daphne down the middle. Oftentimes when this occurs they can be pruned drastically and will recover with surprising speed. These dramatic situations can, however, be avoided by pruning a taller shrub back by one-half in mid autumn. This pruning time is not one that I would normally recommend but pruning in mid to late summer will eradicate flowers. Waiting until spring and a taller shrub may have already split in a tough winter. Make cuts at an angle. Moisture will better slide off so that open wood can dry and heal faster. You may, indeed, cut off branches with flowers on them in mid autumn... or midsummer for that matter if you are more comfortable with summer pruning. Bring the cut branches indoors. Place them in a vase and enjoy the extraordinary perfume. Should you procrastinate prune in late winter or early spring. Hopefully an older, taller shrub will have come through the vagaries of winter without damage.

Might you consider growing the remarkable 'Eternal Fragrance'? This exceptional hybrid is unequaled in the x transatlantica complex due to the careful work of Robin White. Its fragrance is heavenly. It blooms continually or nearly so from late spring to November, possibly into December in some years here in USDA zone 5b. Farther south it may continue its processional of lovely bouquets with their heady bouquet into winter! Dig in. Have fun.

penned by Wayne Paquette, March 2015