We're having those 'dog days' of summer you hear about. Hot and sultry and the air stagnates. You can wake up in the morning bounding with energy and five minutes outside zaps it right out of you. The air is as thick as pudding and sends you running back to the comfort of air conditioning.
Dog days got their name because of the constellation Canis Major (Big Dog), which contains the star Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. In late July, Sirius coincides with the sun and the ancients believed it added to the heat of the sun, making summer days extra hot. So for twenty days before and after, the period of intense heat became known as 'dog days.' Today, dog days occur between July 3rd and August 11th. The exact dates change a bit over time as the earth and stars gradually drift.
So, while dog days have nothing to do with dogs, it's still hot, but here in the flatlands of Ohio, we've got snow!
Euphorbia marginata ('Kilimanjaro') is commonly known as Snow On the Mountain and is an annual I grow every year from seed. It grows smack dab in the middle of Max's Garden and right about now it's glowing. At night, as I look out our second-story bedroom window on a moonlit night, I can see it in all its whiteness, when I can make out nothing else in the garden.
The flowers are quite small and it's the white-margined leaves (bracts) that really make this plant a standout in the garden. It grows quite tall, reaching three feet or more in my garden.
Though it's an annual, Snow On the Mountain will self-seed and if I'd let all the seed pods fall last year instead of collecting most of them, I wouldn't have had to plant any seeds at all this spring. Many of the plants you see in the picture above came up as a result of self-seeding.
A word of caution about this beauty, though. Its milky sap is very irritating to the skin for some people and can cause burn-like blistering when exposed to it, so handle with care!
*Canis Major sky graphic from All The Sky