The earliest and longest flowering of all Daphnes – the Daphne Perfume Princess – has just been named 2016 Plant of the Year by Australia’s Nursery & Garden Industry
This is perhaps not surprising given there’s been a large amount of discussion around the Daphne Perfume Princess plant – worldwide – since it was first launched in Australia in March last year. It takes an exceptional plant to generate this level of interest, and the Australian award confirms that this is so.
New Zealand breeder Mark Jury produced the Daphne Perfume Princess, the earliest and longest flowering of all Daphnes, with the sweetest of fragrances, astonishingly large blush pink flowers. It takes an equally high-calibre promotion and plant management program to get even a brilliant plant such as this out into the limelight, and in the case of the Daphne Perfume Princess, Tesselaar’s 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.
Meeting Perfume Princess for the first time is a shock – of the very best kind. Her flower clusters are huge, six centimetres across – but it’s her intense perfume, with its citrus undertone, that transports you. This is everything a daphne should be, and so much more.
And how nearly we didn’t have the pleasure! It seems Mark Jury, world-renowned New Zealand plant-breeding legend that he is, began with the right intention but nearly didn’t get there. He took Daphne odora with its compact bush and lovely little flowers and crossed it with a Daphne bhoulua, known, despite its rangy growth habit, for its foliage and for being blest with the best and most powerful of the daphne scents.
Mark then worked for years, trying to gather some seed from the crosses with little joy until finally he had six seeds to work with. Only one germinated and the plant that resulted looked so underwhelming, that he was forgiven for being distracted by other more successful breeding projects (the Jury family produces world class magnolias). The ugly duckling daphne seedling was left in a corner of the nursery where it was often knocked over then shoved, literally, back into its pot.
Eventually Mark took another look at the seedling and perhaps out of respect for its tenacity, he planted it out into the ground and a miracle happened. In one season the ugly duckling turned into the Perfume Princess we have today. After all this time and effort he had achieved a cross which demonstrated all the characteristics he was hoping to achieve and more: a compact bush; lush green foliage; huge flowers; flowers at both the branch tips and at most leaf axels; and a daphne perfume to die for.
At this point, like any good plant breeder, he spent more years testing his Perfume Princess to make certain that the parent plant, and all the others taken from it, look and performed as expected. And they did. Anthony Tesselaar Plants also tested the Daphne Perfume Princess at their trial sites globally, then happily made the decision to put their full plant management and promotion machine in action behind it.
Since its release into the market place, the reaction has been phenomenal. Everyone who has become involved with Perfume Princess, right through to the person who takes it home to plant in their garden, they can all see what a very special daphne this is.
THE PRINCESS – AT A GLANCE:
- masses of large flowers that open blush pink and fade to white
- highly perfumed flowers, with soft citrus undertones
- a very long flowering season
- intense clusters of blooms that can continue blooming down the stems
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Anthony Tesselaar Plants