Mention the word
"ascot" and a silky menís tie worn by the upper crust of
European society comes to mind. Today, however, I want you to
associate the name with Ascot Rainbow, an evergreen perennial
euphorbia capturing the imagination of the gardening world.
speaking, Ascot Rainbow is known as Euphorbia martinii. It is native
to Australia, where the name Ascot is associated with an old, wealthy
suburb of Brisbane. In truthfulness it is known as a spurge, which we
most often associate with a host of terrible weeds. Ascot Rainbow,
however, is worthy of royalty.
First, know that
the plant is a perennial in zones 5-9, which means much of the country
can enjoy the incredible texture this plant offers the landscape
border. It reaches 20 inches tall with an equal spread. Where I am
plant-lusting it now is in mixed containers as a partner to other cool
season flowers like pansies, violas, kale and snapdragons. There is
something about the plant that fixates my attention. The foliage is
deep green with golden margins in the cool season.
The drop in
temperature also fires it up with shades of red, pink and even orange.
In spring and summer, the bloom is among the most unique as it
features lime-colored bracts and red centers.
Rainbow is drought tolerant, and that will thrill gardeners
everywhere. It is also rabbit and deer tolerant. As you would expect
from a Euphorbia from Australia, it needs good drainage and thrives in
full to partial sun.
In a way I think
of the Ascot Rainbow as an evergreen perennial, but it helps in your
design to consider it more as a dwarf shrub and plant a cluster of
three with ornamental grasses and perennials like purple coneflowers,
rudbeckias and blue salvias. It fits this type of border perfectly and
adds a great deal of interest from leaf texture and bloom.
If you are the
lucky gardener with rocks or a slope, then let Ascot Rainbow dazzle
all your visitors as you combine it with other drought tolerant,
tough-as-nails flowers. But you will treasure it as the thriller plant
in cool season mixed containers. It naturally forms a rounded ball,
and a layer of pansies, including some trailing in front, is most
picturesque. But if your container is large enough, then your options
are limitless as you can use it with tall snapdragons and dianthus and
blue-leafed kale, which contrasts with Ascot Rainbows golden
variegation. You are the artist.
easy. Remove old bloom stalks in late summer or fall all the way to
the ground. As with other spurges we grow, this one too is not to be
eaten, but enjoyed for the beauty and texture it offers your garden.