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Winter’s Touch of Gold—Variegated Winter Daphne

We’ve all been there (and perhaps you’re there now)—the winter doldrums, those periods of stagnation and dullness that sweep over us during the colder months. And for the gardener, who is longing for those spring days when the morning suns breaks into the garden and kisses each new leaf and bud, winter can be an especially depressing season. What are we to do?! Well, winter isn’t going away, but we can adjust our perspective on the coldest of seasons by thinking about what’s available for us in the winter garden.

One plant that can help reinvigorate our winter gardens is Winter Daphne, or Daphne odora. Known for its sweet fragrance, as its name reveals, Winter Daphne is an evergreen shrub that bears clusters of rosy-purple star-shaped flowers with a whitish center in late winter. An especially striking variety of Winter Daphne is Daphne odora ‘Aureo-marginata,’ or Variegated Winter Daphne, for zones 7–9. Its name says it all: aureo means “golden” and marginata means “border” or “edge.” In other words, the gold-colored variegation of this variety appears along the edges of its leaves, giving the plant its memorable appearance. Because of its distinct look and incredible aroma, Winter Daphne often works well as a specimen plant near a walkway, porch, or deck, where you and your guests can enjoy it. Winter Daphne grows slowly at a rate of 2-3 in. per year to mature at 3-4 ft. tall and wide.

Daphne odora in bloom at Lichtenfelt’s

When planting Winter Daphne, be sure to consider several important details. Daphne prefers a location that is part shade to part sun (i.e., that receives a bit of shade from the hottest part of the afternoon summer sun) and that has well-draining soil. Never plant Winter Daphne where the soil stays soggy after rain or watering. Also, never break up or disturb the rootball of a daphne when planting, and fertilize it only with mushroom compost, either as a topdressing or mixed in the planting hole. Finally, give Winter Daphne time to acclimate to its new location; it may take a few years for it to completely adjust to its surroundings and reach its full potential.

So, if you’re deep in the weeds of winter dormancy, brush off those frosty feelings and head over to Lichtenfelt Nursery where you can find winter’s touch of gold—Daphne odora ‘Aureo-marginata.’

~ Michael Pope, Lichtenfelt’s Team Member

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Lenten Rose: A Gift for the Winter Doldrums

During cold snaps like the one we’ve woken up to today, Spring can seem like an eternity away. Though the blooms of last season are a distant memory, Lenten Rose reminds us of the grandeur that is to come.

Botanically known as Helleborus orientalis, Lenten Rose is not actually a member of the Rosa family. Rather, its name is a combination of its blooming season (typically before and during Lent) and its Eastern geographical origin. Recently, Helleborus hybrids have burst onto the scene, with more vibrant colors, more “upright” facing blooms, and myriad textures and foliage shapes.

In Upstate South Carolina, Lenten Rose flourishes in the shade of high-branched trees or on the north or east side of buildings. Some gardeners cut Lenten Rose to the ground around the first of the year, allowing for a neater, more compact growth habit. Rich, well drained soil amended with Mushroom Compost provides the perfect medium in which to plant.

Lichtenfelt’s stocks over 15 varieties of Lenten Rose, from the traditional orientalis to the wild and colorful hybrids. Stop in to take a look at our selection and talk with our knowledgeable staff. It’s time to consider adding Lenten Rose to brighten your winter garden.

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Native Yaupon: America’s Only Caffeinated Plant

A Hearty Native That’s Easy to Brew but Hard to Beat!

Ilex vomitoria—the name sounds stomach churning, certainly not like the name of a plant you’d want in your garden or landscape. But don’t let its name fool you. Although its leaves and stems were harvested by Native Americans to make a caffeinated tea used in purification rituals (which included vomiting), Ilex vomitoria actually has no emetic properties. European settlers incorrectly believed the plant induced vomiting (hence its name) because of its close connection with the natives’ rituals. In other words, if you drink tea made from this plant, it won’t send you running to the bathroom.

But this plant’s hearty characteristics may send you running to your local nursery, where you’ll find this native of southeastern North America under the common name Yaupon Holly. In fact, its native status and overall reliability and appearance have made it a frequenter in many southern lawns and gardens. An evergreen shrub sometimes used in hedges or along foundations, Yaupon Holly has alternating oval-shaped or oblong glossy leaves with slightly serrated edges that grow along slender light-gray shoots.

Yaupon Holly thrives in a sunny exposure but can take some shade as well, and its height ranges anywhere from 4-20 feet, depending on the variety. In early spring the plant produces small whitish green inconspicuous flowers that give way to red berry-like fruit in the fall, a welcome snack for birds. These berries, which grow only on female plants, persist into the colder months, giving the shrub its festive feel as winter takes hold.

So, if you’re feeling the chill this winter, brew yourself some Yaupon Holly tea (yep, it’s still a thing), pour it into a travel cup, and head over to Lichtenfelt Nursery, where you’ll find a warm greeting and several varieties of Ilex vomitoria, including the petite Micron Holly (Ilex vomitoria ‘Gremicr’), Dwarf Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria ‘Nana’), and the stately Weeping Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria ‘Pendula’). We look forward to seeing you!