A look at the 2016 plant of the year



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There’s a reason this plant of the year is such a big deal

One of the greatest qualities of gardeners is their eagerness to share with their neighbours, friends and family news of a favourite plant. Often it is horticultural institutions that work to feed gardeners this information. Every 12 months, they deliberate over many entries, then declare one new plant to be The Plant of the Year. This happens all over the world, and in Australia in mid February, Australia’s Nursery & Garden Industry have given this title to Daphne Perfume Princess, an extraordinary plant – in looks, scent and performance.

Meeting Perfume Princess for the first time is a shock – of the very best kind. Her flowers are huge, six centimetres across – but it’s her intense perfume, with its citrus undertone, that will amaze you. This is everything a daphne should be, and so much more, and she exists thanks to the fact that Mark Jury, her renown New Zealand plant breeder, didn’t give up on this particular cross between Daphne odora with its compact bush and lovely little flowers and Daphne bhoulua, known for its foliage and powerful scent.

The reaction worldwide since the Perfume Princess’ release has been phenomenal but perhaps not surprising given that this is easily the earliest and longest flowering of all daphnes. It’s easy to grow, with the sweetest of fragrances and astonishingly large blush pink flowers. But even a wonderful princess needs the help of a high-calibre promotion and plant management program to step into the limelight. In the case of Perfume Princess, Tesselaars have done what they do best: they’ve taken a relatively little known genus and have brought Perfume Princess into being as a mainstream product, introducing it with the unmistakable passion of true gardeners.

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