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Euphorbias - Spurges and Milk-Weed

The Euphorbia group of plants - as well as having several shrubs included and even annuals - is an invaluable group for the perennial garden.

Many Euphorbias are evergreen, and therefore give colour or interest through much of the year. Some are semi evergreen whilst others are deciduous or rather herbaceous perennials - which is to say that they die down to ground level during the winter and re-grow again in the Spring.

Those mentioned in this section are fully hardy, or maybe frost hardy. I am constantly surprised by the hardiness of some of the Euphorbias supposedly non-hardy Christmas Euphorbia pulcherrima (Poinsettia or The Mexican Flame Leaf). I have seen stunning specimens high in the mountains of Northern Thailand. Maybe not an area that springs to mind as a frosty area, but certainly a lot colder than many parts of the UK!

Euphorbia characias Lambrook Gold in full flowerOne of the common names of the Euphorbia is 'Milk-Weed'. The one thing that all Euphorbias have in common - as far as I am aware - is the fact that they have milky sap. A sap that is at least a skin irritant as well as causing severe stomach problems if ingested! Best regarded as poisonous - but so are so many other garden plants!

The perennial group of Euphorbias include low ground hugging types, busy plants, and erect sub-shrubs. All are well suited to either herbaceous borders, island beds, rock gardens and shrub areas. A versatile range of plants.

I have photographed them at all times of the year and there would probably be no difficulty in having a solitary bed - or border even - planted up with Euphorbia. Someone will have done it, so I am looking forward to receiving a photo!

 Even when not in flower, some of the taller evergreens are superb in the winter months - silver or grey green foliage glistening with frost or dew!

Flowers are in the main yellow, but there are some with red, purple or bi-color effect. When talking of flowers in the Euphorbia, I am wrongly talking about the flower bracts and other parts of the flowers - cyanthias etc.. which are near enough to be confused as flowers! (Botanists please forgive me - though I doubt you will!)

Euphorbia characias Lambrook Gold in the image, has long since been one of my favorites - providing me with photo opportunities every day of the year I was prepared to venture out!

There are Euphorbias for all soil types - dry damp - and aspects - full sun or shade. They are varied enough in size and form to be found a place in most garden situations, and some - such as my beloved Euphorbia Lambrook Gold, and others - make a spectacular specimen  when planted in a container.

A few Euphorbias well worth a place in the garden include..

Euphorbia characias subsp 'wulfenii'

Euphorbia characias Lambrook Gold.

Euphorbia dulcis Chameleon.

Euphorbia griffithii Fireglow.

Euphorbia polychroma.

Euphorbia x martinii.

Euphorbia myrsinites.

Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii.

In all, the Euphorbias are a huge range of perennial plants and as such will be well featured in this section as time allows. 

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