If you're looking for a variegated plant that's subtle rather than wildly splashy, Carol Mackie daphne is the plant for you. This low-growing shrub's semi-evergreen foliage is deep green with a narrow lighter band along the margin of each leaf.
The band is usually pale gold early in the season, fading to creamy white as the leaves mature. Carol Mackie also has early-blooming clusters of wonderfully fragrant pale pink flowers. A lighter flush of flowers often appears in late summer or early fall.
Common name: Carol Mackie daphne
Botanical name: Daphne x burkwoodii ‘Carol Mackie'
Plant type: Woody shrub
Zones: 4 to 8
Height: 3 to 4 feet
Width: 4 to 5 feet
Family: Thymelaeaceae, mezereum family
- Sun: Full sun or part shade.
- Soil: Humus-rich organic soil with excellent drainage and neutral to slightly alkaline pH.
- Moisture: Keep evenly moist but never soggy.
- Mulch: None or a thin layer (1 inch) of organic mulch such as wood chips, bark chips, or shredded leaves.
- Pruning: Prune broken or wayward stems.
- Fertilizer: One application of balanced fertilizer per year if desired.
- Root softwood cuttings taken in summer.
- Purchase container-grown plants from nurseries, garden centers, and catalogs.
Pests and diseases
- Foliage is rarely marred by insects or disease, though leaf spots are possible.
- Roots and crown are susceptible to rot, especially if soil is too wet.
- Carol Mackie daphne's tidy form, small size, and beautiful foliage make it a welcome addition to mixed shrub borders and mixed perennial/shrub gardens.
- Plant it where you can appreciate its fragrant flowers-in an entryway garden or near your deck or patio.
- Many daphnes, including Carol Mackie, are notorious for dying suddenly for no obvious reason, even in good soil with excellent drainage. If this happens, don't take it personally-you're in the company of many other expert gardeners!
- ‘Brigg's Moonlight': A reverse variegation of ‘Carol Mackie', with leaves that have pale yellow centers and green margins.
- ‘Somerset': Nonvariegated, bluish green foliage and fragrant, pale pink flowers.
- All in the family
- Other daphne species include winter daphne (D. odora, zones 7 to 9), garland flower (D. cneorum, zones 5 to 7), and February daphne (D. mezereum, zones 5 to 8).
- Despite the similarity in names, the herb thyme (Thymus) is not a member of the Thymelaeaceae family. It belongs to the mint family Lamiaceae (also known as Labiatae).
(Text by Nancy Rose, photo by Amy Sumner)