Tag Archive: euphorbia

To Walter de Grasse

wp_20161028_09_44_58_proDear Walter,

I heard the other day that the Met Office is saying that the growing season here has been extended by a month, due to global warming. Certainly, as I walked around Felmingham and North Walsham the other morning it was amazing to see how few trees are anywhere near bare of leaves, and there’s still so much green around!

I guess that I’m feeling as though I’m in a false sense of security, as it doesn’t seem at all urgent that I get on with planting bulbs and the perennials I’ve been nurturing in pots, sowing Broad Beans and onion sets or transplanting tender plants into the greenhouse. Of course I’m probably going to fall prey to a sharp frost anytime now and I’ll be shocked into the reality that it’s winter..well, it will be soon, as the clocks go back an hour tonight.

I look back and once more think about all that hasn’t been done in Old School Garden this month. Still I suppose a few important jobs have been ticked off- like putting in a new fence post and mending and creocoting the fence, gate posts and garden gate, cutting the grass and gathering leaves, putting out the first lot of bird food, weeding around the leeks and continuing to gather produce, especially apples and carrots. I’ve also cleared the front border (just below where we had the paint removed from the house flintwork) , levelled the edging, started to top up the soil and will eventually plant out a row of English Lavenders I’ve been growing on in pots, together with some Scabious grown from seed and some bulbs for spring colour. This will eventually be a Lavender hedge which should grow go well on this south-facing (if part shaded) wall.

I’ve also had a plant exchange with my friend Mandy; she’s given me some Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’ and Euphorbia seguieriana. The former is a hardy perennial with pale lilac flower spikes that become ‘fasciated’ (the stems and flower spikes flatten and twist into strange shapes) and so are rather curious to look at. I love Veronicastrum and look forward to growing this- perhaps alongside the two tall pale yellow Scabious I’ve grown from seed this year and which are also ready to plant out.

Image result for images veronicastrum fascination

Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Fascination’

Image result for images Euphorbia seguieriana

Euphorbia seguieriana

I gave Mandy a few Candelabra Primulas (also grown from seed) in return. I have rather a lot of these and have been thinking about where to put them; apart from around the pond garden that is, where they were initially intended to go. I think I’ll try a few in the triangular raised beds we have next to the terrace, perhaps mixed in with the Achillea nobilis ‘Neilreichii’ I’ve grown on from runners harvested at Blickling along with some more spring bulbs. I also think I’ll try some in the ‘plant theatre’ in the courtyard garden, in advance of the pelargoniums that normally make for the summer show.

Candelabra Primulas and Achillea ready to plant out

Candelabra Primulas and Achillea ready to plant out

As you may have seen I’ve been active on other fronts gardening-wise. A spent the first of what I hope will be regular sessions at the local high School Allotment Project, where the enthusiastic Mr. Willer is getting great results from the garden and pupils. I’m also drawing up a design for the ‘The Grow Organisation’ near Norwich, which is providing gardening and food growing opportunities for people with various needs, including some with mental health issues. This is exciting, the first bit of garden design I’ve done for a while! finally, the ‘Friends of Haveringland Parish Church’  have just about completed the first stage of turning over the churchyard to a managed conservation area with mown paths, easy access to still-tended graves and to provide a wildlife haven that’s also somewhere beautiful for humans to sit and reflect.

Haveringland Parish Churchyard- after its latest mow and ‘rake off’

Finally, my regular (well, pretty irregular recently) sessions at Blickling continue and apart from the practical gardening work I’ve begun to research the information for the new Tree Trail I’m designing there. this is throwing up some fascinating information; e.g. did you know that the ‘Monkey Puzzle’ Tree (Araucaria araucana, beloved of Victorian gardens) gets its common name from a chance remark made back in 1850?  Sir Willaim Molesworth, the proud owner of a young specimen at Pencarrow garden near Bodmin, Cornwall, was showing it to a group of friends, when one of them (the noted barrister Charles Austin), remarked, “It would puzzle a monkey to climb that”. As the species had no existing popular name, first “monkey puzzler”, then “monkey puzzle” stuck!

Image result for araucaria monkey puzzle tree

Araucaria araucana- the ‘Monkey Puzzle’ tree

Though I haven’t yet had another go at that shredder, it has at least been a month of some progress in Old School Garden and beyond. I must quicken the pace to make sure all those late autumn/early winter jobs are completed soon, before the weather finally breaks..or will it be early autumn well into November?

Old School Gardener

Picture: Dario Fusario

Picture: Dario Fusaro

I’ve surprised myself. I think I’ve managed to track down the six remaining plant pictures my friend Jen sent me from Vietnam. So here’s the next three wonderful pictures in this ‘select flora’…

First the evergreen shrub, Ixora coccinea or the ‘Jungle Geranium’ or ‘Flame of the Woods’.

Ixora coccinea

Ixora coccinea

Second, the national flower of Laos, the Champon flower, or Plumeria rubra. This fragrant relative of Oleander is also known as ‘Frangipani’.

Plumeria rubra

Plumeria rubra

Finally, a rather spiky Euphorbia originally from Madagascar, named after a former Governor of the Island of Reunion  (Baron Milius) who introduced it to France in 1821, Euphorbia milii, or the ‘Crown of Thorns’.

Euphorbia milii

Euphorbia milii

My final three plants in a few days time…

Old School Gardener

Euphorbia milii

PicPost: Great Garden @ Hyde Hall

‘A visit to the 360-acre Hyde Hall estate is unforgettable in any season and allows visitors to immerse themselves in nature.

Hyde Hall is in an area of Essex that has very low rainfall, and this factor, combined with the soil conditions and exposed nature of the site, makes it a challenging area for gardening.

A visit will show that by choosing the right plants for the right places and by working with the prevailing conditions, it is possible to create a garden of beauty.’

Source: Hyde Hall website

Euphorbia characias sub species 'Wulfenii'

Euphorbia characias sub species wulfenii

A bit like Marmite, gardeners  seem to either love or hate Euphorbia (Spurge) – I love them!

This is a large genus of over 2,000 species, including annuals,perennials as well as shrubs and succulents. They originate from many different parts of the world and as a result their growing requirements differ widely. They include the red-leaved species commonly seen at Christmas, Euphorbia pulcherrima (Poinsettia)

Euphorbia pulcherrima (Poinsettia)

Euphorbia pulcherrima (Poinsettia)

Some are evergreen and hardy, others are semi evergreen or deciduous. Nearly all species have distinctive ‘cyathia‘- small cups of long – lasting bracts that can be green, yellow, red, brown or purple. These are ‘cupping nectaries’ containing insignificant flowers with much reduced parts. In the perennials and shrubs these cyathia are carried in dense clusters. The leaves are very varied  and often are shed quite quickly.

Some species are very invasive and are not really suitable for the garden (e.g. E. cyparissias and E. pseudovirgata) others will self seed prolifically so need to be used with care (e.g. E. lathyris, E. hybernia,E.coralloides and E.wallichii). Some species can be invasive in some climates (e.g. E. myrsinites in parts of the USA) but are less problematic in milder, wetter places.

Euphorbia cyparissias (Cypress Spurge)

Euphorbia cyparissias (Cypress Spurge)

Euphorbia myrsinites

Euphorbia myrsinites

All Euphorbias resent disturbance, so siting them carefully from the start is important for long lasting plants. Euphorbia suit every situation from desert to bog, formal courtyard to wild woodland. With a couple of  exceptions Euphorbia are easy to grow. They are also look great in the garden, the colourful bracts lasting many weeks.

Euphorbia look best if allowed to sprawl at will, but if space is limited, you may need to support the floppier ones.

The evergreens require no routine pruning – simply tidy them up when they start to look untidy. Deciduous ones should be cut down to ground level in autumn. New shoots will emerge from the crown in spring. The biennial forms such as E. characias produce new shoots from the base each year. Cut out dead stems in winter. They are not fussy as to soil, but most prefer good drainage.

The bigger, more sculptural forms look good with architecture – against steps or walls, or in corners of courtyards. E. mellifera is a superb statement plant. E. myrsinites can be used in raised planters to sprawl over the sides. E. griffithii ‘Fireglow’ looks great beside water, with bronzy Rodgersias and red-flushed Astilbes, but will also look good in a hot border, while E. ‘Whistleberry Garnet’ associates well with ferns, Hostas and the dark-patterned leaves of Geranium phaeum.

All parts of Euphorbia are useful in flower arranging either in the fresh or dried state.

However all Euphorbia are poisonous and bleed a skin irritant milky sap, whereas the flowers are highly allergenic, so be careful when cutting or handling these wonderful plants.

Euphorbia polychroma

Euphorbia polychroma

Euphorbia griffithii 'Fireglow'

Euphorbia griffithii ‘Fireglow’

Euphorbia characias sub species 'Wulfenii'

Euphorbia characias sub species wulfenii

Further information:

National Collection of hardy Euphorbias

Growing Euphorbias

Euphorbia pulcherrima (Poinsettia)

Common varieties


Old School Gardener

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