Monday, October 29, 2012
Falling Out Of Love
Euphorbia wulfenii down the street from my house
I imagine all of us gardeners, from time to time, just loose interest in a plant. Maybe it doesn't perform as well as it should, isn't quite the right color, gets diseases or flops. Sometimes, tastes just change...and things we were obsessed with just loose their luster. Over the past year, I've realized that I'm completely over Euphorbias. It's sad, but true. I remember, soon after moving to Portland, being amazed at all the enormous Euphorbia wulfenii around town.
Even though I thought there were pretty cool, however, they never intrigued me like the darker-leaved varieties did (and honestly, every house in Portland seems to have at least one Euphorbia wulfenii). First I planted 'Blackbird' and loved it all winter long...then, it bloomed in spring and became a sticky, buggy mess. I cut it back, but it never looked good again, so I yanked it out.
Euphorbia 'Blue Jeans'
Next came 'Blue Jeans', which I dearly loved when I planted it...however, the same thing happened...after blooming, it became a straggly, woody mess..and just never looked good after that...looking kinda crappy for the rest of the summer. Oddly, they always seemed to look at their best during winter. I enjoyed them last winter, and once they bloomed this spring, out they came.
Euphorbia griffithii at Joy Creek Nursery
Then, a few years ago, I found this Euphorbia...Euphorbia griffithii. I loved it! Deep, somber maroon-tinted foliage in spring, followed by glowing, ember-like blossoms in late spring. The plant above is a mature clump I spotted at Joy Creek a few years ago...and I wanted one! I didn't have luck finding any for sale around town, until the Spring Yard, Garden & Patio show a few years ago. I bought a bare root plant (a smaller, less thuggish variety called 'Dixter') and was so excited.
Euphorbia griffithii at McMenamins Kennedy School
I know what you're thinking...finally, he found a Euphorbia he could love. Well, not really. Partly, I think I just don't have luck with buying bare-root plants...well, except for my enormous Amsonia (which I bought bare root on eBay), which looks awesome. My 'Dixter' has only produced two stems each year for the past 3 years. Each year, I keep expecting to see at least one or two more shoots...but no such luck.
You see, once the heat of summer arrives, 'Dixter' turns a plain, boring green...and gets utterly lost in the garden. The stems stay a decent reddish color, but they aren't enough to make the plant interesting. To be honest, right now (late October) there are quite a few plants in my garden equally as guilty as 'Dixter' of being sprawling, green masses, but, without exception, their seasons of interest are still much longer than 'Dixter'.
Boring, green, sprawling foliage
So, since I have the tiniest garden ever, and don't suffer a plant I don't at least sort of love, it's coming out next spring. Here's the question...what should I put in its place? I'm seriously considering moving the trio of Agastache 'Desert Sunrise' to it's old spot (well at least one of them...it's not a huge area), since they are starting to get shaded out by the ever-expanding bulk of the Eutrochium nearby. Honestly, however, those Agastache could find another home somewhere even sunnier (perhaps one of the parking strips). In that case, what would you plant here?
Peek-a-boo, I see you!
Have you ever falled out of love with a plant...it seems inevitable, doesn't it...after all, we're always changing...and it makes sense for our gardens to change with us, right?
I'm suddenly wondering if the front garden couldn't use a nice Euphorbia wulfennii ;-)