As a gardener, winter is typically not my favorite season. In my planting designs, I strive to provide year-round interest, so I get extremely excited when I find plant material that can provide benefits even during this challenging season. Edgeworthia chrysantha, also known as Paper Bush is a triple crown winner in the winter interest category!
While most of the winter bloomers I have found only have one unusual attribute, this deciduous shrub provides winter interest in multiple ways! Edgeworthia boasts great, showy bark, it is winter-blooming, and the beautiful waxy flowers are extremely fragrant! Edgeworthia is also in the Thymelaeaceae family, which makes it cousins with another fragrant winter bloomer, Daphne odora. In my experience, however, Edgeworthia has more interest and is much easier to grow than Daphne. Growing 3' -6' tall and 6' wide, I use Paper Bush in the landscape as a focal point shrub or small tree.
Originally from China, Paper Bush's attractive reddish-brown bark was used to make a high-grade paper. Edgeworthia's highest attribute, however, is its extremely fragrant flowers. The flowers emerge in December and appear on the bare branch ends. The flowers are 1-2" wide and are creamy white with yellow centers. These flowers, when fully emerged, perfume the air for long distances. Whether this is a 'pleasant' or 'putrid' fragrance is up for debate. Typically these blooms can be enjoyed from December until February. Once the dark blue-green leaves appear, they are fuzzy on top and have an attractive yellow fall color. Paper Bush is hardy in zones 7 to 9. In a sheltered location, it can be used in zone 6. Plant Edgeworthia in moderate shade, as its natural habitat is in forested areas, with a highly organic, moist soil.
Try this unusual beauty in your shade garden and see how its great attributes will add interest to your winter garden!
You can read more about the planting and growing requirements of Paper Bush here:
They are also available in my NC service area at Plant Delights Nursery (GREAT nursery in Raleigh, NC, they have a great selection.)
About the Author:
Lori Hawkins, RLA, ASLA has been a registered landscape architect and active in the landscape design/build industry for over 30 years. Her service area includes Greensboro, High Point, Oak Ridge, Winston-Salem, Chapel Hill and the Raleigh NC metro areas. For additional inspiring project pictures, design ideas, or great garden gifts, take a look at these websites:
GARDEN ART AND GIFTS: WWW.TriadGarden.com
DESIGN WORK PORTFOLIO: WWW.HawkinsLA.com