Photograph by Sabina Rüber

Bupleurum rotundifolium ‘Grifitthii’ is one of those useful foliage plants that once you have you feel you can’t be without – and in fact, happily, you won’t, as it self seeds everywhere from year to year if it is given a space it likes in full sun in well-drained soil. It’s like a loose-flowering euphorbia but without the white sap, with umbels of acid green flowers and lovely rounded leaves through which the stem grows. It’s not a classic flowery flower, but it’s an incredibly useful annual for cutting, and lightens up a dense border with an injection of fresh green. Bupleurum is brilliant for knitting together a flower arrangement, its lime-green flowers uniting the brightest, clashiest colours. Growing bupleurum couldn’t be easier in moist, well-drained soil. The wild form – now quite rare – was in the past an arable weed on chalk or limestone. It is very hardy so can be sown in early spring direct into the soil where you want it to flower; or for larger plants the following year, sow in autumn. If you want back-up, sow a few seeds in modules, so that the plug plant can be moved and planted out without disturbing the roots when large enough. Growing 50-90cm tall, it has a tendency to flop like a gawky teenager, and needs a home among other mid-height perennials or grasses to give it some framework and support. It looks particularly good with dark blue salvias and perhaps with a grass or two thrown in too – Stipa tenuissima or Pennisetum ‘Hameln’, perhaps. 

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