Epimediums are slowly but surely gaining popularity among shade gardeners. They are one of those plants that look dainty but are tough as nails and require very little care – just my kind of plant!
My first encounter with that amazing plant was two years ago when I visited Garden Vision Epimidiums (GVE) in Phillipson, MA on Mother’s Day during their 2019 open nursery days. GVE is a specialty nursery that boasts the largest selection of epimediums in the United States, if not the world. I was amazed by the variety of bloom and foliage and immediately fell in love with that plant. The owner Karen Perkins answered all my questions and helped me select a few varieties for my garden while leading me through her garden in the rain. Aren’t gardeners the nicest people in the world!
Unfortunately, Garden Vision Epimediums’ open nursery days were cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID pandemic and, even more sadly, Karen Perkins has announced her decision to gradually wind down the operations of her business and retire. I am hoping to be able to make one last visit next year before they close for good.
During my visit to GVE in 2019, I acquired the following varieties of epimediums: ‘Domino’, ‘Ninja Stars’, ‘Pinnatum’, ‘Purple Prince’, ‘Queen Esta’ and ‘Silver Queen’. Despite my first purchase being based on zero knowledge and prior research, all of these turned out to be excellent varieties and now, two years later, the already mature clumps look spectacular in my garden.
Epimedium Pinnatum ssp. Colchicum is native to the former USSR Republic of Georgia. The GVE website describes it as “a workhorse groundcover for dry areas” (www.epimediums.com).
My favorite thing about Epimedium Pinnatum ssp. Colchicum plant is its spring foliage (shown above).
Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Silver Queen’ was one of the varieties that I added to my garden during my visit to Garden Vision Epimediums in 2019.
‘Queen Esta’ is another beautiful epimedium grandiflorum that went home with me that day. Not only does it have pretty flowers, but it also boasts spectacular chocolate brown foliage in spring.
‘Domino’ is a larger variety that occasionally reblooms. I recently acquired its sister plant ‘Pink Champagne’ (shown below) that Karen Perkins has repeatedly referred to as her favorite variety.
I love the raspberry bloom of ‘Pink Champagne’ and can’t wait for my clump to grow.
‘Ninja Stars’ combines beautiful yellow bloom with bronze foliage in spring. I was first drawn to the unusual shape of its leaves that have the additional virtue of being semi-evergreen. This is a truly outstanding variety that provides year-round interest in the garden.
While my first purchase of epimediums was based solely on bloom color, I subsequently placed an online order with GVE of 6 additional varieties based exclusively on foliage interest. One of these amazing varieties is ‘Mottled Madness”. Its flowers are so tiny that they are barely visible but who wants flowers when you have foliage like this.
‘Kaguyahime’ is another well-rounded epimedium with foliage similar to that of ‘Mottled Madness’ but also lovely lavender flowers.
‘Bandit’ is a superb variety that has both interesting spring foliage and beautiful flowers. It is a smaller plant that would look great in a trough or a rock garden in combination with other miniature plants.
Epimediums combine beauty with ease of care and are one of those plants that no shade garden should do without.