Mention the word “ascot” and you probably think about a silky, men’s tie most likely worn by the upper crust of European society. Then there is the Royal Ascot horse race, where the word is associated with royalty and high society. Today, however, I want you to associate the word with ‘Ascot Rainbow,’ an evergreen, perennial euphorbia that is capturing the imagination of the gardening world.Botanically speaking, ‘Ascot Rainbow’ is known as “Euphorbia x martinii.” It is native to Australia, where the name “Ascot” is associated with an old, wealthy suburb of Brisbane. In truth, it is known as a spurge, which we most often associate with a host of terrible weeds. ‘Ascot Rainbow,’ however, is worthy of garden royalty.First, know that the plants are perennial in zones 5 to 9, which means much of the country can enjoy the incredible texture this plant offers the landscape border. They reach 20 inches tall, with an equal spread. I am plant-lusting them now in mixed containers where they have been partnered with other cool-season flowers like pansies, violas, kale and snapdragons. There is just something about the plant that holds my attention.The foliage is deep green, with golden margins in the cool season. This drop in temperature also fires them up with shades of red, pink and even orange. In spring and summer, the bloom is among the most unique as it features a cup of lime-colored bracts with red centers.The ‘Ascot Rainbow’ is drought tolerant, and boasts another trait that will thrill gardeners everywhere – they are rabbit and deer resistant. As you would probably think, a drought-tolerant euphorbia from Australia needs good drainage and thrives in full to partial sun.In a way, I think of them as evergreen perennials, but it helps in design if you consider them more as dwarf shrubs. Plant them in a cluster of three with ornamental grasses and perennials like purple coneflowers, rudbeckias and blue salvias. They fit this type of border, perfectly adding a great deal of interest from both leaf texture and bloom.If you are the lucky gardener with rocks or a slope, then let ‘Ascot Rainbow’ dazzle all of your visitors as you combine it with other drought-tolerant, tough-as-nails flowers. But as I have stated, you will treasure them as the thriller plant in cool-season mixed containers. They naturally form a rounded ball, and with a layer of pansies, including some trailing in front, they are most picturesque. If your container is large enough, then your options are limitless as you can use them with tall snapdragons, and dianthus and blue-leafed kale, which contrasts with the golden variegation of ‘Ascot Rainbows.’ You are the artist and simply using it will make your neighbors think, “Look who took a special gardening class!”Maintenance is easy. Remove old bloom stalks all the way to the ground in late summer or fall. Like other spurges, we grow this one not to be eaten, but to be enjoyed for the beauty and texture it offers your garden.Follow me on Twitter: @CGBGgardenguru. Learn more about the University of Georgia’s Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm at www.coastalgeorgiabg.org/.
MANCHESTER, England (AP):Zlatan Ibrahimovic compensated for Paul Pogba’s moment of recklessness by scoring Manchester United’s late equaliser in a 1-1 draw against fierce rivals Liverpool, a result that damaged both teams’ Premier League title chances yesterday.Ibrahimovic maintained his hot streak with a glancing header in off the crossbar in the 84th minute at Old Trafford, cancelling out James Milner’s 27th-minute penalty that was conceded by Pogba’s handball.On the day United rolled out advertising hoardings displaying Pogba’s new Twitter emoji, the player himself made a crucial mistake while jumping with his back to the ball at a corner.Liverpool ended United’s nine-game winning run in all competitions six of which had come in the league but dropped seven points behind first-placed Chelsea. Sixth-placed United were 12 points off the leaders.”We get one point, but we were not on the top of our game. It was a hard fight, a hard game,” Ibrahimovic said. “I think we did simple mistakes. We were not comfortable.”Wayne Rooney, needing one goal to surpass Bobby Charlton as United’s outright record scorer, came on for the start of the second half but didn’t have a genuine chance at a history-making goal in an intense, scrappy match between English football’s two most decorated clubs.United’s recent form had raised the possibility of a late run at the title, so this result was a setback.However, Mourinho’s team got some reward with a more direct approach late in the game. Marouane Fellaini came on as a 76th-minute substitute and the tall Belgian made a difference and played a key role in the goal.His glancing header from a left-wing cross struck the post and the ball eventually made its way to right back Antonio Valencia, whose return cross was met by Ibrahimovic for his 14th league goal of the season. He has scored 11 goals in his last 11 league games.”They played long balls,” Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said. “It was a wild game.”Milner’s penalty was Liverpool’s only real chance in the first half, with United having more sight at goal in particular one-on-one chances for Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Pogba skewed his chance wide and Mkhitaryan was denied by Simon Mignolet.Rooney’s arrival in place of Michael Carrick meant the game became more open and disjointed, and Liverpool suddenly looked dangerous on the counterattack, especially after Philippe Coutinho came on as a substitute.”We didn’t reflect the qualities we have and Liverpool have but it was very emotional, intense, aggressive. We fought until the last second,” Mourinho said.”We were the team that attacked and Liverpool were the team that defended.”