Horticulture Week Business Award - Best New Ornamental Plant Variety

Winner - Daphne 'Perfume Princess', Wyevale Nurseries

Image: Wyevale Nurseries
Image: Wyevale Nurseries

The other work of New Zealand-based Mark Jury, who bred Daphne ‘Perfume Princess’, includes Fairy Magnolia and Black Tulip. He grew interested in Daphne after a visit to UK breeder Robin White and started work on this cross around 2003, with the aim to improve selections of Daphne odora. He set about to combine the tough, strong habit of Daphne bholua types with the heady fragrance and flowering performance of Daphne odora.

He grew discouraged when he found the seed set extremely low and almost gave up. Finally, he found six ripened seeds, and only one of these went on to germinate. He persisted but, with his focus switching to magnolia breeding, this young Daphne plant was left forgotten in a corner of the nursery. The plant secretly flourished but it was not until Jury rediscovered it and set it out in the garden that it really came into its own.

Wyevale Nurseries says ‘Perfume Princess’ may be the most scented shrub in the world. The combination of flower size, quantity and perfume make it a strong candidate. The plant has very large flowers and is extremely floriferous. The tip-bearing flowers are followed by flowers that open all the way down the stem.

‘Perfume Princess’ has a very long flowering period and flowers from the tip all the way down the stem. Extremely tough and durable, it can withstand high temperatures, drought, humidity and waterlogging. The plant does not suffer the yellowing of leaves that is so common in Daphne. It is also extremely vigorous, an excellent grower and responds very well to pruning. In three years of growing, Wyevale Nurseries has not lost a single plant.

The first worldwide launch was at Melbourne International Flower & Garden Show in 2015 and the plant was Australian Nursery & Garden Industry Association plant of the year in 2016. The first release in Europe was in spring 2017.

The plant is grown as a three-litre and will be 4.5-litre in 2018-19. This new size is to help highlight how strong-growing the variety is and to offer an extra-large specimen.

Demand is outstripping production. Some 1,500 units were reserved by independent garden centres in 2017 and this has almost doubled for 2018. Wyevale, Dobbies, Blue Diamond and Notcutts have all reserved ‘Perfume Princess’. It is Wyevale Nurseries’ highest-priced three-litre promotion at £11.00 with a healthy gross margin. Production has quadrupled over the past two years.

Sponsor: Modiform

Highly commended

  • Choisya ‘Scented Gem’, Genesis Plant Marketing

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