GET THE LOOK
Also known as the myrtle or donkey-tail spurge, this is a great plant for dry areas, and as it is low-growing – like silvery elongated pine cones it sprawls just 6in from the ground – it is excellent for the front of the border. Just ensure the roots don’t sit in water all winter and it will reward you with the typical euphorbia greenish-yellow bracts or flowers in early spring. In her gravel garden in Essex, Beth Chatto boldly pairs it with scarlet Anemone fulgens and the little wild tulip, Tulipa linifolia, which looks superb. Crocus (0844 557 2233; www.crocus. co.uk) has E. myrsinites in two-litre pots for £5.99, and it can be grown easily from seed from Chiltern Seeds (01229 581137; www.chilternseeds.co.uk), £2.40 per packet. which are open throughout the winter, Monday to Saturday 9-4pm, Sundays 10-4pm, admission £5. A variety of euphorbia and cyclamen plants can be found at the plant nursery, which also does mail order. For more inspiring planting ideas, and spot-on descriptions, read (Frances Lincoln, £25).
BETH CHATTO’S GRAVEL GARDEN
Other drought-tolerant plants can be seen in skilful and subtle combinations at the Beth Chatto Gardens, Elmstead Market, Colchester, Essex CO7 7DB (01206 822007; www.bethchatto.co.uk), Beth Chatto’s Gravel Garden
Although Cyclamen coum can be grown from corms and seed, the most reliable way to introduce it to your garden is by planting out pot-grown plants that are readily available in garden centres at this time of year – this way you can choose the prettiest patterned leaves (some are marbled in silver) and flower colour, which ranges from magenta to white. Don’t overplant, as they should rapidly set seed, springing from seed pods on tightly coiled stems in summer, and may even interbreed to broaden the colour range. If you wish to enjoy these pretty plants at close quarters first, keep them indoors over winter, and naturalise in the ground when flowering stops in early spring.