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May 26, 2017

Flower of the week from YOUR garden to YOUR table:  16th – 23rd   April  2017.

This week I am going green. Many bushes like edible currant bushes are now in flower with green flowers, the flowers are totally inconspicuous and only our good friends the bees and the flies notice them as they come for their supply of nectar whilst going about their important business of pollinating the fruit for us. In appreciation I am going to choose a green flower for my vase this week – this one is very eye-catching although it is not commonly sold in the shops as a cut flower – the Euphorbia.

Botanical  Name: Euphorbia Characias.  Common Name: Milkweed or Spurge.

The genus Euphorbia includes a large range of shrubs; there is the showy poinsettia that is induced to flower at Christmas time, and the tender round ball ‘Euphorbi obese’ that looks like a tennis ball. The one that is now in flower and for sale in garden centres is usually the Euphorbia characias.  It has stout stems clothed with whorls of leaves all the year round even in winter. They are of interest all the year round; I use them as a low growing hedge, there is a variegated type pictured here which is specially of interest.

Euphorbia characias
Euphorbia characias

During the spring each stem produces a whorl of hundreds of tiny green flowers high above the stem. Some varieties like those in the photo can be as large as 30 cm. but usually they are much smaller. Especially showy is a very similar species Euphorbia  x martinnii which has a red eye in the centre of every tiny flower.

It can be kept as a small bush but beware as the more common types like my hedge can be very invasive, and its long roots throw up small plants all over the rest of my garden!

 

TIP For Displaying your cut Euphorbia characias

The flowers will last for weeks on end in the garden and similarly in a vase . The common name is milkweed this is due to the milky sap that will run from the plant when cut. This sap will also form a crust on the cut flower and this will often not allow the cut flower to draw up water. The age old method to prevent this is to immediately burn the cut with a match before placing it in water. The flower will then last for up to two weeks in water.

 

Good gardening ,

Boris Legarni .

About The Author

Profile photo of Boris Legarni

Boris inherited his green fingers from his mother, who was still planting potatoes and rhubarb in the sixties as she was afraid that they would once again be rationed. As a teenager he used to plant radishes in the corner of the school garden and sell them during break time for sixpence, to give his classmates a healthy crunchy snack. He and his wife both have had an allotment for years, but there is no competition – he does the planting and she does the harvesting and cooking. With a passion for growing anything edible, Boris has planted dozens of named fruit trees in his orchard. Nevertheless he is an avid flower arranger, and assists local communities and charities with his flower arrangements. Boris tells us that after so many years on the allotment he has made all the mistakes possible, and he will share with you his practice to make yours perfect!

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