Now that our gardens are bursting into colour, it is easy to overlook the colour green. Some of the lovely shades of green that grace our borders early in the spring we take for granted because. This is quite simply because it’s all around us throughout the four seasons.
So is it little wonder that green plants barely get a mention? Green is the very colour of life and these plants deserve some attention. Take the early flowering Euphorbia polychrome for instance. The vibrant lime green of this plant is stunning and somehow stands out even more when planted amongst the sky-blue flowers of the delicate forget-me-not.
Euphorbia polychroma, which grows about 46cm (18 inches) high, bears rather insignificant flowers that are often described as sulphur yellow. In reality, they appear as just another shade of very light lime green. Euphorbia’s common name is spurge or milkwort on account on a pure white sap that leaks from its stems if broken. The bright lime green foliage tends to fade once summer arrives and often turn to tinges of bronze in the autumn. This front of the border perennial flowers throughout April and May and is a great, yet unassuming harbinger of spring.
Alchemilla or Lady’s Mantle is a gracious old-fashioned emerald green perennial that, again, comes into its own early in the year. Its serrated leaves provide the base for its sprays of tiny pale green flowers. Again, it is a front of the border plant and is very popular for flower arranging. One of its most delightful features occurs after a rainfall. Sparkling in the sunlight like diamonds, tiny droplets of water are caught on the leaves in perfect form. A truly wonderful sight.
My third choice of the early green perennials is the Astrantia, which is another ‘wort’. Grown in this country from about the 16th century, its common name is masterwort and is one of our oldest of garden flowers. Unlike the Euphorbia polychroma and Lady’s Mantle, Astrantia will happily flower most of the summer if you deadhead the delicate green-white rosette like flowers. One of its lesser-known interesting features is the fact, beetles, not bees, pollinate it. Well, there you have it and next time you look out on to your colourful borders spare a thought for the plants that are the colour of life. Green.