We have reached its prime, but I want to celebrate a family of plants that look wonderful under this flower roof and that every garden should have – Euphorbia.
The euphorbia family is huge. There are around 2,000 species in our gardens, from annuals to large evergreen shrubs and all over the world from cactus-like succulents to poinsettias.
On the whole, the hardy garden euphorbias give the garden a light green, acid yellow hue in spring, although their color palette is more diverse.
All euphorbias bleed a milky latex when cut or wounded. This can lead to a reaction to tender skin. Therefore gloves should be worn when handling them.
The British gardening expert Monty Don (pictured with his euphorbias) gave advice on growing different varieties within the euphorbia family
Or if you have leathery hands like mine, at least wash your hands thoroughly and avoid rubbing your eyes after handling them.
There is even an Euphorbia donii named after one of my ancestors, George Don, who was a plant hunter for the RHS almost 200 years ago.
It is an upright, evergreen perennial with green foliage, bordered by red and bright yellow-green flowers, which are borne on a large dome plant in late summer.
I say this after looking it up, but I should let it grow out of family loyalty.
The first euphorbia to appear in my own garden is E. amygdaloides, a forest plant that is happiest in the speckled shade.
I love it and have its light green flowers all over the garden.
They look good until the beginning of August, but should be cut back immediately in order to be able to grow back.
E. griffithii has scaly, frugal spears that appear through the ground each spring before opening.
We have e.g. "Fireglow" with bright orange / vermilion cover leaves over the green leaves and "Dixter" is a variant of it with a reddish color.
F: I have two Amelanchier lamarckii, but only one has bloomed. Is there a reason? They are close together.
Sharon Fletcher, Maidenhead
A: One can shade the other, which would hinder flowering. They bloom as last year grows, so flowering buds are removed every winter cut.
F: I have a lemon from a deceased friend's tree. Can I turn the seeds into a tree?
Alison Thom, Wimbledon
A: Yes. Peel the outer layer from the seeds and place between two damp paper towels. Place in a ziplock bag and place over a cooler. Sow the germinated seeds in pots with compost and water and keep warm and moist. Give plenty of sunlight and, if you are a few inches tall, put them in 7.5 cm pots and gradually increase the pot size. You need good drainage.
F: I have a Daphne odora "Aureomarginata" that is very long-legged. Can I prune it after flowering?
Vivian Saxby, Salisbury
A: Daphnes don't respond well to pruning, but if you need to, do it immediately after flowering. However, my advice is to leave it alone.
Write to Monty Don every weekend Post Office, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or send an email to email@example.com. Please enter your full name and Address. We are sorry that Monty cannot answer to letters personally.
It grows well on heavy soils, but is happiest on lighter soils in full sun.
Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii is another essential garden with its characteristic black eye for every flower.
It has glassy foliage and the flower stalks are biennial, which means that in the first year of the following spring it produces towers from gray leaves, which then bloom – with magnificent towers or “cymes” made from bright, vibrant flowers.
When flowering is complete, the stems should be cut back as close to the ground as possible.
E. x martinii likes well-drained soil in full sun and has never really felt at home in our moist clay.
It is a cross between E. characias and E. amygdaloides and is modest, but has a rust-red hue that makes it particularly good for picking and it stays well in the water.
Most euphorbias prefer a light, dry soil, but E. palustris is one of the exceptions to this rule and prefers moist shade.
In spring, the plant is currently producing new growth, which will let off steam after starting and needs support if it is not to fly over all the neighbors.
Usually the leaves turn different orange tones in autumn, but the variety "Walenburg & # 39; s Glorie" apparently turns really red.
Euphorbia oblongata is easy to grow from seeds and although it is a perennial, it can be treated as an annual, with fresh seeds sown each year.
It will continue to bloom from spring to autumn if you continue to pick it for its typical yellowish green.
It is also smaller than the straight E. palustris, so good for a container, a smaller space or as an edged plant.
In contrast to Euphorbia lathyris, the caper worm, which is one of our most persistent, if not particularly unsightly weeds, it sows itself, but not to an annoying degree.
It pulls up easily enough, but seems impossible to eradicate.
Monty chose Lunaria Annua (pictured) this week's plant for its fresh green foliage, symbolic of spring
MONTY & # 39; S PLANT OF THE WEEK: HONESTY (Lunaria annua)
The pale purple flowers of honesty perfectly showcase the fresh new green foliage of spring.
It is a biennial that forms a strong plant in the first year and blooms – wonderfully – in the second year.
The flowers develop into the well-known translucent, disc-like seed heads that persist well into winter.
There are some varieties with a rich purple, plum-like tint that are gorgeous, and Lunaria annua & # 39; Alba Variegata & # 39; has pure white flowers with green and white foliage.
Honesty has a deep tap root, so it's not easy to transplant, but I just let it sow where it falls.
JOB THIS WEEK: EVERY weeding!
Weeds spread quickly at this time of year.
Annual species such as chickweed and groundsel are best pulled up by hand or cut off with a hoe.
But every root section of perennials like couch grass and bindweed has to be dug up. After extinguishing, mulch thickly to prevent regrowth.
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