Whenever I see the word euphorbia, I immediately associate it with euphoria. Just one small consonant separates them.
And in springtime, it’s the euphoric season around here.
Just look at that green. Yellow acid green. Sunglasses for the glare green. Love it.
I grow three types of euphorbia here:
- euphorbia wulfenii (euphorbia characias wulfenii also called Mediterreanean spurge),
- euphorbia robbiae, (euphorbia amygdaloide var. robiae also called Mrs Robb’s Bonnet)
- euphorbia polychroma (also called cushion spurge). It is a later flowering variety and dies back in winter (for me).
Well, when I say I grow it, I sometimes thinks it is just pretending that I am in charge and it grows where it likes. Sometimes I get lucky and the tiny plants pop up in perfectly proportioned places. Like the gap between two doors in the cellar.
Other times I have to really wrestle it out of the very much wrong place. Like the edge of walls. There is one here right at the top of the pool bank which is annoying. But I don’t want that to put you off. If you are vigilent you can whip them out when they are titchy and enjoy a stunning perennial plant.
Snow doesn’t even ruin the shape as the branches just bend low and bounce back. I was going to write about these plants last week, but I had to wait until the branches had returned to their more upright position after a heavy snow fall.
They have all perked up and the bees just go mad for them.
The Mrs Robb’s Bonnet euphorbias are very keen colonizers. I may find myself in trouble with some areas in a few years time. But right now I’m delighted I get this pert upright plant covering so much of an area of the garden. They are doing too well in the walnut bed which has plenty of room for it to run. The ones that creep into the lawn in front will get mown.
And I will have to see how they do in the shade garden. They have already spread to the gravel path in between the beds. But so far I’m delighted. It softens the lines of hard landscaping don’t you know. (Makes me sounds like a precious professional.)
One place where I had to take charge was the huge plant that sprung up in front of the potting shed. For three years now I have been dead pleased at its random arrival and growth. But this week I had to cut it back hard and attend to matters more urgent. Years and years ago when I thought I was in charge of the design scheme, I planted a lot of ivy at the base of the pillar that holds up the potting shed.
My plan was for this rather stark wooden building to be clothed in ivy from the south side, and virginia creeper from the west. Oh, and the climbing hydrangea, please don’t ask me to spell it (hydrangea anomala subsp. petiolaris) on the east and north.
Things haven’t quite gone to plan. The virginia creeper is brilliant. But needs careful work to get it to grow where I want. It spends a lot of time growing in under the eaves and gets blown off the rather slippery surface of the polycarbonat and tin roof.
And the ivy? Why it has grown well. But underneath the shed and not up. I carefully cut back the flowering euphorbia (poisonous and dangerously sappy if you get the white cut parts in your eye) and then had a climb underneath the building to have a look.
Yep. Virginia creeper – eight metre long lengths of it. And all the ivy shooting about three metres in. There isn’t much head room under there. And in Australia you wouldn’t go anywhere near it for fear of snakes.
I have dragged out the ivy and had a (risible) attempt at getting it up onto the front of the building. If all goes well, it might stick. Or just get blown about in the next gale.
The euphorbia I planted at the base of the herb garden is flowering brilliantly too. But the stark colour you get in spring really shows up the design faults of the scheme.
I have a soft spot for these wulfeniis as they were the very first euphorbs I planted. But over the years the original plants have died, replaced by the offspring a few metres further down the bed.
I will cut back hard soon, and then pleasing green in slightly wrong spots will be all I have to ponder.