A Seat Cushion ‘Euphorbia polychroma’

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Euphorbia polychroma (Cushion Spurge) is a plant that can awaken spring.  I can’t remember where I discovered it, but I planted it in a garden bed I’ve been frustrated with because of the clay in the soil.  I should have investigated the soil contents more before adventuring into creating a bed in this area, but my temptation to use the space was overpowering at the time.  On the plus side, this lead me to testing plants that do well in clay, and this one thrives in this spot (although care instructions indicate good drainage for this plant).  Perhaps the fact the soil is well-drained because it is on a hill and the balance of the clay moisture holding capacity below the soil provides a counteracted effect.  Whatever the reason, it does well in full sun and in my clay-ish bed. Go figure!

This perennial is excellent for use in mixed borders or even cutting gardens.  It grows fast too, reaching a height of about 12-15″ and width of 18″.  But what I love about this plant the most is the intensity of the yellow bloom color completely covering the cushion habit atop its rich green foliage.  It is alike a ball of sunshine in your garden bed.  It is practically – well, you know – Euphoric!

The form keeps it shape too, perfectly symmetrical and fluffy.  Good enough to provide a cushion seat!  (Not really, but you know what I mean!).  The other aspect I enjoy about this particular Euphorbia species is the unusual style of the flowers clusted at the top.  In fact, the greenish flowers are unisexual.  They have no petals or sepals and this is probably why they look different compared to typical flowers. (See the photo gallery below).

If you are seeking an April to May bloomer in your garden with a bright yellow bloom, this is the plant.  Plus it is deer resistant too.   If you find the plant gets a little too large, it is okay to shear it back by one-third to shape it after it finishes flowering.  Also, if you have a really fertile garden, unlike my clay bed, this plant can be a bit aggressive, so shearing it before flowering removes potential seeds.  It doesn’t get affected by serious diseases and insects and is perfect for zones 4-8.  And one last note, there is a milky white sap that can seep or ooze out of the plant when cut so if you are allergic to these things, wear gloves for protection.  Cathy T

Agave ‘Kissho Kan’

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Agave ‘Kissho Kan’, a succulent hardy to zones 9-10, was a big hit at Gardens, Gallery & Gifts.  I sold these in black pots topped with lava rocks and as a trio in designer containers with shiny stones to finish the look!  Many visitors took one home.  This plant grows to about 15″ tall eventually.  It has an interesting white edge to the margins with sharp red infused spines. 

Kissho with Sticks

First to Sell

I believe the main factor which attracted attention is the fact it is a tough plant that can take droughty conditions – something we experienced all summer long in 2010 – and on the days of our first annual GGG event in Broad Brook, CT.  (Take Note:  We are holding our 2nd Annual GGG Event again this June 4-5th!).  

The other factor enjoyed by GGG visitors is it could be taken indoors as a houseplant at the end of the season.  Reusing the plant for a new purpose and saving money.  The key however is to take it in before any (repeat any) chance of frost damage.  In fact, well before.  As you reach the final end of the summer when temps begin to cool, take this plant inside. 

Agave

Drought tolerant

Succulents require even less attention once inside.  By a sunny window during the winter, they recede into a semi-dormant state.  You can greatly reduce the watering and let it loose some weight, so to speak.  And this type of plant can be left alone should you take some time to travel during your winter – or prior during the summer months on vacation!  It is very undemanding but offers a good show.  Mine is doing wonderfully by my kitchen garden window, watering it very, very lightly and only occassionally (weeks can go by without watering).

The other succulent receiving applause at the GGG event was Senecio mandraliscae ‘Blue Chalk Sticks’ (Groundsel).  It was a new offering by the grower and caught my eye.  This blue chop stick looking form produces small white flowers around July-August, which mine did!  It has a spreading, reaching habit thus can serve as a “spiller” in Container Gardens.  Visitors to the show commented on it for it was unusual.  Many had never seen this plant before.  Again, the fact that it is a sun lover (to part-sun), deer resistant, and tough made it high on their list.   In warmer clients, this one could be considered as a groundcover too.

Spiller Candidate

Blooms late summer

I’ve already placed my order for more succulents – but of a different twist.  They will be offered again in June at the GGG show.  I’m looking forward to sharing the one’s I’ve selected and seeing your reactions….And to the snow melting in time!  Cathy T