February 19, 2020

Euphorbia Polychroma for Early Spring Vibrance

Perennials that bloom in April are in short supply for my Zone 6 garden.  Spokane winters are long, and few perennials can start growing and get ready to bloom until May or later.  So I was especially excited to discover Cushion Spurge (Euphorbia polychroma) a few years ago. 

This spurge is a lovely accompaniment to tulips like the ones above:  Palmyra, Negrita, Margarita, Black Hero, Orange Princess and Menton.  And unlike many tulips, cushion spurge will regrow and rebloom every year without replanting.

Shown here with Orange Princess tulips, cushion spurge is hardy in zones 4 to 8 and grows 1 to 1.5 feet tall and wide.  It prefers full sun and well-drained soil.  I grew my plants from seed, but I've seen them for sale at nurseries.

Like many euphorbias, this plant has milky sap that can be irritating to skin and eyes.  It also reseeds like crazy if you don't deadhead.  I wear gloves to cut the plant back by half as the blooms finish.  This helps the plant stay full throughout summer as well as preventing reseeding.

Cushion spurge works well with many colors.  It's shown here with pink creeping phlox and Royal Raindrops crabapple trees in bloom.

The nice thing about spring-blooming perennials is that cool temperatures allow the blooms to last a long time.  In spurge's case, the color actually comes from bracts instead of petals.

In this photo the spurge has outlasted the tulips and is still blooming when Purple Sensation and Early Emperor alliums have opened.

I really love the color combo of spurge's acid green with the purple alliums and maroon smoke bush foliage.

In fall the leaves turn red and last through light frosts before turning brown when the temperatures really drop.  Then it's time to cut back to the ground and wait for next spring.

Here's one more shot of this sturdy, useful, lovely plant.  In my walk around the garden this morning, I noticed the first stems emerging from some of my cushion spurges.  Spring is coming!   

February 4, 2020

Rainbow of Garden Plants for a Snowy Day

Although we've had a relatively mild winter, it's snowing again today.  So I'm sharing a rainbow of colors from past years in my garden to feed my need for color.  Above are 'Ambassador' allium.

'Ruby Giant' crocus.

 'Evening Tidings' bearded iris.

'Harmony' miniature iris.  They're actually a true cobalt blue, which I didn't capture very well here.

Allium caesium with 'Venice Blue' veronica at back.

'Rotlaub' rodgersia leaves.

'Little Lime' hydrangea.

Digitalis grandiflora, a true perennial foxglove.

'Goldilocks' crocus.

Unknown orange Oriental poppies.

'Royal Sunset' asiatic-longiflorum liles.

'Montgomery' astilbe.

'Buckeye Belle' herbaceous peony.

'William Shakespeare 2000' David Austin rose.
For those of you in cold climates like me, good luck waiting until spring!

January 22, 2020

Spring Centerpieces with Tulips and Hellebores

My garden is buried in snow right now, but spring is slowly getting closer.  I have pored over catalogs, placed orders for new perennials and am looking forward to another exciting growing season.  Here are some photos of centerpieces I created from garden and grocery store flowers last April.  We held dinner for my son's prom group, so I had fun setting a fancy table.

All of the tulips came out of my garden and include this double pink (name forgotten) and double white Mount Tacoma.

Along with the tulips, I added hellebore flowers like this lovely black one.  I'm pretty sure this is Madame Lemonnier, which starts pink then deepens into this interesting shade as it matures.

A couple of stems of Queen Anne's lace were leftover from a previous arrangement, so I tucked them in even though the blooms were on their last legs.

White alstromeria and mums were also salvaged from the aging grocery store bunch.

I wasn't sure if these stems of variegated white Aubrietia would make good cut flowers, but they held up well for a couple of days.  Twigs from my contorted filbert added wildness to the arrangements.

These hellebores are Double Queen, which open cream and age to green.  Greenery includes boxwood, honeywuckle, Biokovo geranium and Otto Luyken laurel.

All the ingredients combined to make delicate and feminine centerpieces.  I'm not sure if my son and his buddies really cared much about the flowers, but their dates enjoyed them.

Ah, can't wait for spring!

Soon we'll see greenery like this outside the dining room window instead of the snow that's on view now.