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Spurge laurel is such an uninspiring name for this lovely British native, which I was surprised and delighted to find in full flower when I was walking the south Wales coastal path at Lavernock last weekend.

180119 Spurge laurel (2)

Any gardener will recognise this plant as a member of the Daphne family – its scientific name is Daphne laureola – and, not only does it flower from the middle of winter through spring and into early summer, it also has a delicious honey smell. It’s evergreen and prefers to have its roots in rich, shaded soil, growing best on the edge of woodlands on chalk or limestone.

I must add one note of caution, though: everything about this plant is poisonous to humans, from the sap (which can cause a nasty skin rash) to the black berries that appear in late summer. Luckily, the berry toxins do not appear to affect birds, and there are reports of robins and greenfinches enjoying an autumn feast.