the buzz on plants

Got home from work yesterday and was still in the process of dropping all my gear off in the office, when the first person to greet me did so briefly then in quick order uttered those anxiety-making words: “I’ve got to talk to you about a plant.” Usually those words are the bare introduction to an ensuing narration about some human/plant interaction gone awry, in which the plant always ends up the loser. Or a proclamation that such-and-such plant is ruining everyone’s lives for such-and-such reason — in which case the plant always ends up the loser as well.

I braced myself and followed him. He led me to this plant. (Ein is always in on the drama.)


Euphorbia rigida


What a plant! To my eye, nothing gets the cones and rods dancing like chartreuse green and slate blue.


Such an improvement on Euphorbia myrsinites, which snakes along the ground, its stems more often naked than leafed out, flowering sporadically. Euphorbia rigida is always presentable, upright, and most of the year plain stunning. Pam in Austin, Texas, grows it and loves it, as does Loree in Portland, Oregon. Euphorbia rigida has scope (zones 7-11.) It’s one of those sociable plants that plays well with others. See how the orange/russet colors of Sedum nussbaumerianum only intensify the blue/grey. I’ve just noticed some light reseeding of the euphorb this spring.


My first guilty thought was someone had tripped. The walkway has narrowed slightly, I suppose. But everything seemed fine.


No evidence of a human/plant altercation here.


Just lots of bees gorging on the early spring blooms.


Eye witness: “This plant was covered in bees.”
Me: “Yes, I do see lots of bees here. So glad they like this euphorb!”
Eye witness: “No, you don’t understand. I mean, this plant was covered in bees. You couldn’t see the blooms, there were so many bees. I was heading to the garage fridge for some milk when I heard this roaring sound I couldn’t place. I looked down at my feet, and this plant was covered in bees.”

Of course, the phrase covered in bees will forever be linked at our house to Eddie Izzard’s monologue on beekeeping, so I couldn’t tell at first if the eye witness just liked having an opportunity to use the phrase, or if there was truly a midday garden event where a fantastic amount of bees descended on Euphorbia rigida. The eye witness seemed quite moved by what he had seen, so I’m inclined to believe him. And as I write this, it is to the thrumming backdrop of a steady hum emanating from the garden outside my office door. We’ll see if another epic bee event occurs later today involving Euphorbia rigida. With all the bad news on bees lately, it’s nice to find some thriving.

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10 Responses to the buzz on plants

  1. Pam/Digging says:

    So glad the plant didn’t come out the loser this time! It’s definitely a winner in my garden. I’ll be on the lookout for happy bees.

  2. Denise says:

    Hi Pam — hard to believe one plant likes it in both Austin and Portland, isn’t it?

  3. D's Farmlette says:

    Absolutely WOW! Euphorbia rigida is beautiful! Love the colors. You have a wonderful grouping for it too.

  4. Scott Weber says:

    This is one of the few Euphorbias I’m tempted by…but I have such bad luck with them (as you mentioned, the bare-stem syndrome) and I can’t quite bring myself to plant any more. Maybe someday I’ll try again 😀

  5. That’s it! I’ve been casually looking abut for another plant to purchase but now things are going to get serious, I need a second one! Mine is in just about the same stage as yours and I am absolutely in love with it.

    BTW how come your eye witness didn’t just snap a photo? Doesn’t everyone have a smart phone in their pocket for emergencies just like this?

  6. Hoov says:

    Temporary swarming behavior? It’s about that time. The Euphorbia looks fabulous indeed with that Sedum.

  7. Denise says:

    D, that’s the perfect word for this euphor, Wow!
    Loree, I’d love about five more, but where to put them? Eye witness’ smart phone was probably under his bed.
    Hoov, here I get my bee info from Eddie Izzard — I should be listening to you.

  8. Susan says:

    Awesome plant and great to know the bees love it. Your photos are great. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Charlie says:

    I live in Seattle and the Euphorbia in my garden is beautiful. I have a lot of bees in the yard all year long and have not noticed the Euphorbia to be a favorite. I am going to research this a little further. Great Photos.

  10. Julie says:

    I love this plant! Your photos of it are spectacular. Do you know where I could purchase one? I see that Annie’s Annuals once carried it but are sold out now.

    I really enjoy your blog!

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