Friday, April 27, 2012

The Letters E and F

Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea

Echinacea is quite possibly one of the North America's most popular native wildflowers. 

Echinacea purpurea prefers full sun, but will grow in a variety of soil types. 
75-85 cm tall with a similar spread.

Though there are many new cultivators, the old tried and true varieties are still my favourites. 

Euphorbia polychroma 'Bonfire'

The letter 'E' is also stands for Euphorbia. Though I now have several varieties of Euphorbia in my garden, Euphorbia polychroma 'Bonfire' is still my first choice. 

'Bonfire' is a mounded, low-growing plant. The foliage emerges green in spring and quickly transitions into a deep maroon. It has golden-chartreuse blooms in late May-early June that are very striking against the backdrop of deep, maroon leaves. It prefers full sun, will grow in a variety of soils and tolerates average to dry conditions. 30-40 cm tall.

This is 'Bonfire' in my garden in late May of last year. 

'Bonfire' looks wonderful well into fall.

Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow' The plant has wonderful gold and green variegated foliage, with fresh shoots that are tinged with coral red. The plant blooms on variegated bracts with tiny, red flowers. 
It prefers full sun and grows to 50 cm.

I added Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow' last summer, after admiring on several gardening blogs. 

Sadly, I have to report that even after a mild winter 'Ascot Rainbow' looks very bedraggled. The jury is out on how well this beauty will do in my northern garden.

Euphorbia Polychroma prefers full sun and is adaptable to both dry and moist growing conditions. This plant also has a neat mounded shape. Euphorbia Polychroma likes 
sandy, well drained soil. 30-40cm tall.

Also new to the garden, is Cushion Spurge or Euphorbia Polychroma.  Deep yellow bracts will hopefully appear later this spring. 

So far, this plant has come through a Canadian winter much better than Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow'. I can't wait to see the foliage turn brick-red next fall!

Euphorbia griffithii 'Fireglow' growing in David Tomlinson's garden called Merlin's Hollow

I gave Euphorbia griffithii 'Fireglow' a try in the garden a few years ago, but found that it refused to stay put and started to wander. Though I loved the orange flowers bracts, I ripped it out. 

Then last June, I admired this same plant at David Tomlinson's garden called Merlin's Hollow. I asked David if he found that the plant spread uncontrolled, but he reported no problems with it. 

Now I am wondering if I was a bit paranoid when I pulled it out of my flowerbed! What about you? Do you have any experience good or bad with Euphorbia griffithii 'Fireglow'?

The letter 'F' is for fern and in this case a native fern. Ostrich ferns, Matteuccia Struthiopteris grow in great drifts on the forest floor in a swampy area near our home. 

They are also my favourite fern in the garden. The foliage has a wonderful cinnamon-like scent.

I love watching their curled, serpentine heads unfurl each spring.

I find these ferns indispensable for shade. Though they prefer moist soil, Ostrich Ferns do seem to tolerate the drought that always comes in late Ontario summers. They reach 1-2m in height and definitely require rich soil.

Ostrich Ferns are apparently the preferred species to eat, although I have never harvested their tender fiddleheads. I prefer to enjoy them all summer in the garden.

Have a great weekend everyone!


  1. I can't grow ferns here, but I adore coneflowers and I have euphorbia all over the place!

    Lovely photos!

  2. Your garden is awesome ! The flowers and ferns are so healthy and fresh looking !
    Your garden reminds me of my father's garden.
    My father has a garden and he grows flowers and vegetables all year round. I am visiting him after a month and I will share some photos of my father's garden in my blog someday !

  3. The ferns are realy an artwork of mother nature. The echinacea is always one of my favorites. I love all species of the euphorbia, your garden is so beautiful.
    Have a great weekend

  4. Absolutely beautiful pictures - just planted an ostrich fern and am anxious to see it unfurl also.

  5. I absolutely enjyoed your pictures! Euphorbia is one of my favorites. I started to like it even more after I found its seedlings in many places in my garden. The fern pictures are from another world!

  6. Wonderful photos. I like the texture of the ostrich fern, very narrow fronds with tiny leaves. I've always wanted to try fiddleheads, perhaps one day.

    1. Marguerite, Fiddleheads are quite delicious and taste rather like asparagus.

  7. Hello Jennifer
    So many wonderful types of Euphorbia!! I enjoyed them all, even the potentially invasive one. And the ferns - you've caught them in all the stages of unfurling….the epitome of spring. Thanks for a lovely post. Can't wait for the rest of the Alphabet!!

  8. Lovely shots of everything, but especially the euphorbia.
    Ferns are my workhorses in this Pacific northwest shade. They fill space beautifully, stay fresh and green all season and always look perky.

  9. I've just started using Euphorbias in the last year and so far I love them. I have heavy clay soil, so I can only grow certain kinds, but I like their neat habit and their unique flower heads. The alphabet is a great idea - can't wait to see waht comes next!

  10. Lovely photos of both your plants, we have Euphorbia griffithii Fireglow planted in the sun on heavy clay, so far it hasn't wandered, but I wouldn't put it in the bog garden! Unfurling fern fronds are one of the many joys of spring, I am in the middle of writing a post about them at the moment.

  11. Hi Jennifer,

    I have not had much luck with some of the specialty euphorbias coming back for me. Maybe I am picking the wrong ones that are borderline hardy in my area. I had tons of the yellow flowered ones in my last home and they were beautiful in the spring.


  12. I love having coneflowers in the garden, as are the bees. Your photos of the ferns unfurling are beautiful!

  13. I only grow one euphorbia and it was a seedling given to me by a friend. I have no idea what it's name is but it's not the ones you have listed. It's not invasive at all. The ferns remind me of caterpillars with their legs stuck out trying to grasp a leaf. I love watching the fronds unfurl.

  14. A beautiful selection of photos. The fern photos are wonderful.

  15. I don't think I could ever have a garden without echinacea! The bees and butterflies think so, too. I don't have a single Euphorbia in my garden, however; I almost ordered some a few weeks ago--now you've convinced me I need to add some. 'Bonfire' will be my first choice.

    I agree about ferns--nothing complements a shady garden of hostas like ferns.

  16. Your images are really stunning. Beautiful captures in light and color.

  17. Stunning series of nature images. Excellent light, color, and DoF.

  18. Hello Jennifer, as much as I like the Echinacea, it just wont thrive in our garden. As for Euphorbia griffithii 'Fireglow, its still in the garden, it looks good and it photographs well, however I am fully with you, it sends out runners and would take over if I was not so ruthless. Gorgeous pictures of Bonfire.

  19. Yes E. 'Fireglow' is notoriously 'friendly' - be warned! I have E. wulfenii and 'Glacier blue' right now but have had great success with Humpty Dumpty as a neat mounding plant. I use them all the time in containers too.

    Love the ostrich fern! Royal fern is another of my favorites. One thing we do really well here in Seattle are ferns (and moss)! Guess that's 2 things.

  20. I always wanted to grow Echinacea but still have not get my hands on the seeds yet. Its available here but I have not been visiting nursery lately. Your ostrich fern look simply Elegant.

  21. I like your alphabet series. Echinacea is one of my favorite is beautiful, prolific, and attracts the butterflies. Yours look lovely.

  22. So many pretty euphorbias! I appreciate hearing how they perform in your climate as I have been considering which types to add to my garden. Beautiful photos! Julie


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