Another plant we love to sing the praises of: evergreen, usually compact, deer resistant and drought tolerant - with flowers that last 3 months or more. The only thing you have to do to enjoy them is to not overwater, and to prune the flower stems back to the base of the plant after blooming is done.
This photo shows a Euphorbia characias variety in full bloom, with Allium 'Purple Sensation' in the foreground. Flowering begins in early spring and will easily last into July. The flowers are set off by the larger bracts, thus lasting longer than a typical petaled flower. When flowering stalks start to brown or look faded, just prune the flower stem all the way to the ground so the new stems can fill in.
As an added bonus, Euphorbias are evergreen in all but the coldest Rogue Valley winters, and their foliage tends to color up in winter; providing a nice visual interest in the winter garden. Euphorbias will take full sun to half a day of sun and need well draining soil. They all have a white sap in their stems keeping the deer at bay but can also cause a rash in some people, so wear gloves when pruning Euphorbias.
There are many, many varieties of Euphorbia, here are some of our favorites:
Euphorbia characias 'Glacier Blue' - A striking variegated variety: leaves are a soft blue-gray edged with white. Plants are 1' to 2' tall and wide. Like most Euphorbias, 'Glacier Blue' prefers full sun and well-drained soil.
Euphorbia ‘Tiny Tim’ (Compact Spurge) – evergreen perennial with green foliage, turning red tones in cold weather, and chartreuse flower bracts in early spring into summer, cut back flower stems to base, 12” H x 12” W
Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow'- new variety with yellow variegated leaves and orange-tinged new growth, compact habit of 18"x18", very striking specimen for containers or in the garden bed.
Euphorbia 'Purpurea'- great choice for dry shade or 1/2 day sun. Stays about 15" tall with purple toned leaves and contrasting chartreuse flowers in early spring. Will seed around a bit but makes a great mass ground cover in shade.
Euphorbia 'Ruby Glow' - gorgeous ruby-red leaves and bright cherry-colored stems, which contrast nicely with its chartreuse flowers. Good in containers or in a mixed border. About 2' x 1 1/2'.
Euphorbia myrsinites 'Donkey Tail': One of the more compact Euphorbias, growing about 8" tall and wide. The blue-green leaves grow in tight spirals around the stem. Flowers are yellow, and contrast nicely with the foliage. 'Donkey Tail' spurge thrives in poor, well-drained soils.