Looking for something different? Something to make your gardening (and non-gardening) friends sit up and take notice?  What about Edgeworthia?

Edgeworthia chrysantha, or paperbush, is an uncommon, eye-catching, heavenly scented beauty waiting to be discovered.  People’s first reaction to seeing it in bloom is “WHAT’S THAT???”  Paperbush is a 4-5 foot tall shrub.  The golden brown stems are naked except at the end, where leaf clusters give the bush a neatly structured tropical look.  In the earliest spring, usually early February, these terminal buds start to open.  The buds open slowly over a long period and their fragrance will fill the garden on a warm day.  The flowers open to become a large cluster of florets, creamy white with a yellow center.  They’re very eye-catching, even from a distance.

As the flowers fade and drop, leaves start to appear on the branch tips and grow into a cluster of 5-inch long simple leaves that give the plant its “tropical” appearance.

In mid-summer the next spring’s flower buds start to appear, and when the leaves drop, these buds, covered with silvery hairs, dangle from the ends of the branches like little silver Christmas ornaments, where they remain until it is time to open in the spring.

Edgeworthia likes to grow in high-organic soils and in light to moderate shade.  It is not attractive to deer!  Plants can be propagated by division in winter, or by taking cuttings in late spring or early summer.  Sometimes Edgeworthia set seeds, which should be sown fresh in the summer.  Germination will take place the following spring.

Edgeworthia is a very different and distinctive plant.  Its personality changes from spring to summer and on into winter and fall.  It’s a beautifully attractive, unusual plant. Try it!  You’ll like it!

--Audrey Ruccio