Winter Daphne

Last night as I was taking the compost out in the dark a wonderful sweet odor drifted around the corner toward the back door. The Winter Daphne, Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’, had to be the source as nothing else on the back side of our house has such a fragrance, especially at this time of year.

We’ve been watching the flower buds expand and turn pink for several weeks now, but just this week have the first precocious blossoms begun to open. We can enjoy the variegated foliage and light pink flowers from our kitchen window, enticing us to step outside and breathe deeply of the delightful floral aroma. It’s a good place to practice yoga breathing exercises.

Crocus dalmaticusOur early crocus, which I think are Crocus dalmaticus, aren’t nearly as fragrant as the Daphne, but they make up for it in sheer volume. We’ve had these very early blooming Crocus for years, and they’ve spread almost everywhere in the garden. I’m always digging up their little bulbs whenever I cultivate or transplant something, so they get dispersed from the tip of my shovel blade. They set copious quantities of seed, too.

These crocus started blooming for us more than a week ago but I just got around to photographing them today. More flowers are open on sunny days than under clouds like we have this afternoon, but even the closed buds provide a wash of color over otherwise brown beds. We’ve established them in a very narrow bed between our picket fence and the sidewalk. It’s no more than 6 inches deep and this time of year nearly filled with these diminutive purple flowers, almost like a little stream at the base of a cliff.

I wandered the garden this afternoon in a light rain with my pocket camera in hand, set to ISO 400 and ‘cloudy’ white balance because it was so overcast and dreary. I put it in close-up mode and steered the autofocus spot to where I wanted the blossom to be in focus. That’s a very handy feature and I think it does a better job than the old trick of focusing in the center and then reframing when working this close to the subject. There wasn’t much light so I was careful to brace the camera to reduce shake since I don’t have image stabilization in this camera. Check the corners for distracting junk, take a deep breath, and gently squeeze the shutter release. Repeat at will.

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3 thoughts on “Precocious

  1. I can’t wait till I have this experience after dealing with all this snow this week. Thanks for the happy thoughts of spring. I can smell those sweet blooms already!

  2. We’ve been fortunate with a very mild winter from El Niño. We could still get a little snow, but its extremely unlikely it will be like our eastern friends have been hit with.

  3. Phyllis Gustafson on said:

    After not having Daphne odora for a couple of years I was missing it the other day and went shopping. Did not find it but will look further. Now seeing your picture and just thinking about how it smells I long to find it this weekend. 30 Daphne sp. in the garden and not this favorite old friend, for shame. Thanks Mark