Following on from the yellow leaves of yesterday’s post, a couple more today. Yesterday morning was delightful with no overnight frost – the first time for ages – and it was 11c by 8am – quite a feat. The early morning trip round the garden to give Mia her first outdoor exercise for the day – she is not allowed out on her own – revealed that, despite my best efforts, some of the new plantings are suffering from drought. So I need to water a bit more and it seems madness to plant more while there is no rain in the forecast. But they still need watering in their pots (though it IS easier when they are all arranged together rather than dotted around the garden) and I want to get more planted.
Today these will include one of my favourite plants; Euphorbia polychroma. We know that euphorbia is a massive genus and calling a plant a euphorbia is as much help as calling it a plant. But this one is a hardy, herbaceous, European species that grows into a low mound, about 45cm tall and more across. It is absolutely luminous in spring when most of the shoot tips terminate in a flattish head of lemon yellow tinged with lime. This is the sort of colour that you rarely see except on makeover programmes where someone with more money than sense buys a refurbished (read ruined) chair painted or upholstered in the most hideous colour, combined, of course, with neon pink.
Sorry – I had to get that off my chest.
As if the plant was not good enough, I actually ordered the cultivar ‘Lacy’ which has white-edged leaves. This was substituted with ‘Purpurea’ which has purple new growth. The substitution has meant that the plant cannot go into the ‘lemon meringue’ garden because of the leaf colour. But as it turns out, because ‘Lacy’ is frequently flushed with pink, it would have been a disaster anyway. So this plant will go into a different border either in full sun or with a little shade.
Like the straight species, ‘Purpurea’ is glowing with colour for many weeks and the foliage is always neat and tidy. There is usually some autumn colour too as the leaves turn red. Most euphorbias are attractive and there are lots that are worth a place in the garden but E. polychroma is a real gem.
Much more subtle, but already established in the garden, is the yellow-leaved Cornus alba ‘Aurea’. Like most all-yellow leaves this can scorch if the soil is dry and the spot too sunny so I have it to the north of a young hornbeam hedge. The leaves are only just starting to grow, creating hovering flames of yellow above some lemon and white daffodils. In theory this, like all Cornus alba, can or should be hard pruned in spring but I am leaving it this year because I like the leaves more than the stems and if there are the usual small, white flowers then so much the better. I will hard prune alternate years.