Garden design with euphorbias

shade layersI cannot tell you how proud I am of this part of my garden.

It is rich in plants – endless euphorbias, shrubs galore; all underplanted with bulbs – muscari, narcissus, lilies, even snowdrops.  And I walk past this sight every single day on my way to the potting shed.

I don’t often boast, but cast your view back four years.

shade garden fully mulched

That was it. Dry as dirt shade, with a single box shrub.  And a badly constructed wall. Overhung by a monstrously ugly chestnut or three, sucking up any moisture around.

SHADEgardentowardsshedIf you look on the farm tour section of the Shade Garden you can see all the trouble I had to try and establish some sort of design in this impossible area.

First to establish a path, and then to create some coherence in two weirdly shaped beds which defeated me for years and years.

I had to find plants which were drought tolerant. And lazy gardener tolerant.  The hose barely reaches this far from the tap near the house.  So things had to cope. Or die.

shade garden set outThe box ball is still there. But you can barely see it from the viburnum, Portuguese laurel (prunus lusitanica), iris foetodissima…. I really don’t remember all the shrubs I planted here. Sorry. Must try harder.  But the selection was very limited. And that pleases me.

[I just checked. Privet and laurel. Fancy. Such simple humble shrubs. The ligustrum is supposed to be japonicum, but I am not sure. Its flowers don’t ressemble those I see on the internet. But by keeping them as pruned shrubs rather than in a hedge, you get to appreciate them. And their incredible ability to hold the soil, thrive and provide an evergreen scene.]

IMG_6188And for instant magic I have to say the euphorbias in spring are the stars. Euphorbia wulfennii, euphorbia robbiae and euphorbia polychroma.

If you love Euphorbia Mrs Robb’s Bonnet you will have to learn to tame it. It is very invasive. Great for this part of a drought stricken garden which needed fast ground cover.  But it has to be managed.

Of the three the euphorbia polychroma is my favourite – exploding into life in spring and forming a perfect tufted mound of neat zing.

shadeeuphorbsIt never misbehaves.  The wulfenniis can get very tall and flop. Even in this never watered part of the farm.  So I tend to cut it back first of all the euphorbias. It will self seed merrily. Throwing its seeds tremendous distances.   The robbiae will creep. And creep and creep.

And if you come by the farm for a visit, you have to expect to leave with your very own bulging goodie bag of potted up euphorbias – whether you like it or not.