YOU have probably noticed some lovely shrubs with masses of fragrant purple and white flowers at the moment. This is Brunfelsia latifolia, a hardy, old-fashioned shrub that deserves to be more widely grown.
When the flowers first open they are dark purple, then they fade to lavender and finally to white, so the shrub has flowers of all three shades at the same time.
This lovely multi-coloured effect has led to the most widely used common name for the plant - yesterday, today and tomorrow. In the US it is apparently also known as kiss me quick, though I have no idea why.
Brunfelsia latifolia is a long-lived, evergreen shrub that will grow 2-4m tall and up to 2m wide. It will grow in a wide range of conditions, is quite drought tolerant and will withstand wind and coastal exposure. It will flower at a young age in full sun or semi-shade and can be trimmed to form a beautiful hedge.
I have several specimens in my garden and over the years I have come to appreciate how generous these plants are, putting on a beautiful show year after year with minimal care. They seem to be happy with just the occasional trim (or not) and I can't recall ever having to treat them for pests or diseases.
Brunfelsia latifolia belongs to the Solanaceae family, along with potatoes, capsicum, chillies, tomatoes, eggplants, petunias and deadly nightshade.
The seed pods can be toxic to dogs and cats. I have read some articles cautioning against growing it at all because of the potential danger for pets. But I think it is a fantastic plant. If you have pets, I'd suggest you prune lightly after flowering to prevent the formation of seeds. That way, you can enjoy the beautiful flowers and lovely perfume and not worry about your pets.
This is one of those plants that just disappears into the background of a garden until it bursts into bloom. In my garden, it forms a lovely living wall enclosing a cosy seating area. For much of the year it is lush and green. Today it is a mass of colour and the fragrance is delicious, sweet and delicate and not at all overpowering.