Better access to western China for Japanese, European and American collectors in the 80s and 90s has led to a flood of exciting new species in cultivation. As a rule, these spring flowering species need the classic moist-but-well-drained (i.e. humus rich) soil in at least partial shade. All are irresistible; we grow far more than are listed here and never tire of them. We will send out well rooted plants, almost all in 1 litre pots this autumn. Not a bad idea to keep them in pots in a frame or cool glasshouse until spring. Plant names highlighted in green have images attached, click to view.
Firstly, two of our own hybrids (there are more in the pipeline, not least our as yet unamed seedling 56A which won the CGS Plantsman Award this year as well as a ‘new in cultivation’ First at an AGS show). These are not chance finds, but individual clones selected from many controlled crosses, then bulked up by division.
Epimedium ‘King Prawn’ £6
Tall and extremely vigorous, with long evergreen leaflets resembling E. wushanense, the pollen parent, well marked when young. The inflorescences are upright and branched, with many flowers, but are larger and with broader sepals, taking after the seed parent E. latisepalum. Flower colour varies a bit with weather but are generally a pinky beige (sounds nothing but actually attractive). A really substantial plant. We entered a close sibling which we’d finally rejected in favour of this one in the Cornwall Spring Show in 2011 – and won the new ‘Plantsman Award’ with it. The flower colour wasn’t quite as good on that one, and we only entered it because it hadn’t been split down. We still think this is the one you want. It’s a big clumper, not a runner.
Epimedium ‘Totnes Turbo’ £6
A really outlandish hybrid this, latisepalum x pinnatum ssp. colchicum, geographically and taxonomically distant. My aim was for a sort of ‘Turbo Sulphureum’ and we reckon we’ve done it. Let’s compare it with the old familiar x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’: firstly, the flowers are two tone yellow, bright yellow petals under soft paler yellow sepals, the same pattern as ‘Sulphureum’ but both are a touch deeper. The inflorescences are considerably taller, the flowers held decisively above the strongly evergreen leaves. There are more flowers per inflorescence, which is sometimes branched. Rather than the heavy brown zone on the young leaves of ‘Sulphureum’, there is a rather uniform bronze cast. Both flowers and young foliage are displayed well whether or not the old leaves are removed.
It’s definitely a good spreader, though quite how fast remains to be seen. It seems quite tolerant of summer dry, but we’re only now testing it in a really challenging place on alluvial soil beside a high wall 1m from the trunk of a mature beech. That position really sorts the men from the boys – we’ll let you know the results in a couple of years.
Next, some goodies we’ve not offered before and want to highlight (there are some new species in the main section
too, so don’t skip through them too fast...)
Epimedium ‘Egret’ £6
In effect, an easier, more free flowering latisepalum, with lots of big flowers and the will to live and increase. The sepals are broad and white; lifting the flower reveals the cream petals. A gift from Danielle Monbaliu in Belgium – it’s still almost unobtainable over here.
Epimedium ‘Pink Champagne’ £6
The first of several hybrids raised by Darrel Probst in Massachusetts which we’ll be listing over the coming years. Upstanding and floriferous, with dusky pink, yellow tipped spurs over red petals. At the same time, the olive green leaves are heavily marked red. The overall appearance of the flowering plant is redder than any other epimedium we know. Quite splendid.
Epimedium ‘Milky Way’ £6
Very many relatively small flowers, whose structure is dominated by the clean white sepals and the yellow stamens, making a light cloud of flowers above the speckled young foliage. It is not unlike stellulatum, but seems to grow and increase more happily. One of Robin White’s hybrids which escaped the curse of Plant Breeders Rights, but for some reason is rarely offered by nurseries. Not to be confused with a variegated x youngianum of the same name, nor yet with ‘Amanagowa’ which a native speaker tells me means the same in Japanese.
Epimedium zhushanense £5.50
An attractive, freely spreading Chinese species, with purple, long spurred flowers. It’s very distinctive for having leaves with a single, unusually broad and rounded leaflet. Grown in a pot, the long rhizomes make a beeline for the holes in the bottom! Uncommon, but not difficult.
Next, Chinese species of Section Diphyllon, and their hybrids. Almost all evergreen, treat them as out-and-out
woodlanders. Their enemies are summer drought and winter waterlogging. The answers lie in deciduous shade and
lots of humus, plus watering newly planted specimens in their first summer. Many will tolerate conditions quite a
long way from this ideal, and they’re mostly highly growable. See Julian’s article in the AGS Bulletin, Sep 2011.
Epimedium acuminatum L575 £4.50
Large flowers on arching stems, deep lilac petals against white sepals. The dark green evergreen leaves are speckled red when young. Not a difficult species. This is by division from Roy Lancaster’s original introduction, which we had from Washfield back in the 80’s.
Epimedium ‘Amanagowa’ £5
More or less evergreen hybrid (acuminatum x dolichostemon), lots of large flowers with white bracts and amber petals. The red mottling on young leaves almost joins up to form a blush some years.
Epimedium chlorandrum £4.50
A tall plant with splendid mottling on the new foliage. Large, spidery, palest greenish yellow flowers. Grow as a single clump.
Epimedium davidii £4.50
Butter yellow flowers over small, rather holly-like evergreen leaves. Vigorous and floriferous, but not a runner.
Epimedium ecalcaratum £4.50
One of the three primitive spurless species, with yellow flowers in May. A very tidy looking plant.
Epimedium ‘Phoenix’ £5
Wendy Perry’s chance hybrid of acuminatum (with grandiflorum?) has plentiful large flowers: sepals lilac-purple, petals deep rich purple fading out almost to white at the tips of the spurs; pale bronzy young leaves very well blotched red. An extremely good and distinctive evergreen with a high ratio of flower to leaf.
Epimedium epsteinii £4
Broad perianth segments, outer almost white, inner rich purple, give the flower a really substantial, chunky look (Sarah goes as far as saying they look ‘square’). Low, tough, and freely running, but not always free flowering.
Epimedium fargesii £4.50
Lots of delicate, backswept white and purple flowers with a protruding spike of stamens; evergreen.
Epimedium fargesii ‘Pink Constellation’ £4.50
A pretty lilac-pink counterpart. It’s very floriferous and the leaves are narrower – quite a lot so, making the whole plant in flower look light and airy.
Epimedium flavum £4.50
Evergreen, with pale yellow flowers over a very long season, sometimes into the autumn. Leaves tinged purple in winter. Horticulturally, a pale counterpart to davidii, but perhaps less easily pleased.
Epimedium franchettii 'Brimstone Butterfly' £5
A clumper with really bold evergreen foliage and soft yellow flowers – the young leaves often blush uniformly red right at flowering time, a fabulous effect.
Epimedium ilicifolium £4.50
Lovely prickly, rather holly-like leaflets. Good sized pale yellow flowers much like those of flavum. Late
flowering. Rare and slow to propagate, but not hard to grow.
Epimedium ‘Jean O’Neill’ £4.50
An interesting new plant, a gift from Peter Chappell of Spinners Garden in the New Forest. He and Kevin Hughes raised a batch of hybrid seedlings from davidii, from which this was selected after a few years in the open garden. It grows and flowers well, with glossy, rather prickly evergreen leaves and profuse flowers which look creamy lilac from a distance, although on close examination are flushed with both pale yellow and violet. Intermediate in flower and leaf between davidii and acuminatum.
Epimedium Spinners’ special £4.50
From the same stable, a plant which was enormously tall (1m+ in flower) and bulky in the garden. Like the previous, rather indeterminately creamy coloured flowers, but well sized, and lots of them. Definitely a leafy evergreen presence in the woodland garden. No official name at present.
Epimedium leptorrhizum ‘Mariko’ £5
A low growing, early flowering little plant. Very long narrow light magenta sepals contrast with white petals and yellow pollen. Very choice.
Epimedium lishihchenii £4.50
A rarity. Light yellow spurred flowers. Evergreen.
Epimedium myrianthum £4.50
I stoutly defend the subtle beauty of this minute-flowered species from Hunan. The flowers are so small that I won’t give a precise description - what you see is the yellow of the protruding stamens and the white of the inner sepals. They are very numerous - up to 200 per inflorescence. The leaves are heavily and coarsely red blotched when young, a very striking feature. You need to show it to your visitors but they will thank you. Good reports as a garden plant but remains rare in cultivation.
Epimedium ogisui £4.50
A beautiful plant, with good sized white flowers on horizontal stems, and a spreading habit. Native to limestone rocks near waterfalls, but seems perfectly amenable and very vigorous when treated like the other Chinese species.
Epimedium x omeiense ‘Akame’ £5
Eyecatching flowers in a sweetshoppy reddish-pink-and-yellow colour scheme.
Epimedium x omeiense ‘Stormcloud’ £4.50
Another form of this variable Chinese natural hybrid (fangii x acuminatum), this time with flowers of a sinister metallic hue. Someone with the right sort of imagination could use this pair in a Ying/Yang or Jekyll/Hyde planting.
Epimedium x omeiense ‘Pale Fire Sibling’ £5
A bit of explaining needed here.However the headline is that the young foliage (is the most sharply, extremely, eye-catchingly red-blotched of any epimedium we have ever seen. Part of this is due to the size and sharp deliniation of the spots; part is down to the pale green ground colour; and I feel the smooth, rounded outline of the leaflets helps too, as in myrianthum. New leaves continue to do this as they emerge later in the season. The flowers are quite big, and cream coloured. As for the name, it seems that the defunct Europa Nursery gave a modest distribution to several seedlings under this name 15 or more years ago. I have seen others which are far less interesting. These are divisions from a single clone which Wiltshire’s Sage and Onion man Simon Young had from them. I’m not convinced it actually is an omeiense. Very special, anyway.
Epimedium platypetalum £4.50
Another of the spurless species, running freely, with yellow flowers held well above the light green leaves, at intervals over a long spring season.
Epimedium stellulatum ‘Wudang Star’ £5
A delicate looking evergreen, taking on red tints in winter. Arching flower stems carry many starry white flowers, giving a lovely hazy effect.
Epimedium ‘William Stearn’ £4.50
Good sized spurred flowers of a sombre dark red, matching the dark marked young foliage. Evergreen. One of Robin White’s hybrids, named for the late authority on the genus.
Epimedium wushanense ‘Caramel’ £5
Elegant evergreen leaves with elongated leaflets, sometimes mottled red, with very large spidery flowers on tall stems to 1m. The name describes the flower colour. It can make a really splendid specimen, even in drier parts of the country. Amazing. (Incidentally, if you already have a splendid specimen, try ‘King Prawn’ in a similar position.)
Epimedium sp. nov. from Yunnan £4.50
Broad white bracts contrast with pale yellow spurred petals. Late flowering. Pale green leaves, evergreen. Very impressive in a pale way.
Our next group consists of Epimedium grandiflorum, its relatives in Section Macroceras, and their hybrids. They
are mostly deciduous plants, making dense, only modestly spreading clumps, and needing acidic to neutral soil.
Epimedium ‘Beni-kujaku’ £4
A typical deciduous grandiflorum type in growth, but the flowers are unusual in having slender petals, rather on the scale of the spurs, giving a bunchy look. Petals and sepals are purplish red.
Epimedium ‘Buckland Spider’ £4.50
Big, dusky pink, spidery flowers. Butch and free running – more so than any others we list in this group, and opening even as the buds emerge from the ground. I value it more and more as the years go by. Selected by Mr. Wiley in his Garden House days.
Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Rose Queen’ £4
Deep pink flowers, wondefully fragrant on a warm sunny day, and bronzed young foliage. Probably the same as ‘Crimson Beauty’ and the old Japanese ‘Yubae’.
Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Freya’ £4.50
A small plant, flowers deep purple with a wonderfully contrasting pale spur. A Washfield special, rarely seen.
Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Purple Prince’ £4.50
Rich red-purple sepals and petals. Impressive.
Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Queen Esta’ £4.50
Very striking American selection, with big flowers in two-tone pink.
Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Yellow Princess’ £4
Short, with soft yellow flowers. Yellow grandiflorums need time to settle, I feel.
Epimedium grandiflorum var. higoense ‘Saturn’ £4
Very dwarf, with pure white flowers and a chocolate margin to the young leaf.
Epimedium sempervirens ‘Okuda’s White’ £4.50
This species is the evergreen counterpart to grandiflorum, coming from the snowier western side of southern Honshu. It’s an acid lover and still loses its leaves in some winters with us. This white variety is a good doer, quite freely running, and at the height of flowering can be stunning. From Japanese cultivation via Heronswood.
Epimedium sempervirens violet £4.50
The violet flowered forms of this species seem less good doers than the whites, for some reason (annoyingly I’ve known this for years and it’s taken the act of typing it to bring an obvious strategy to mind – curses!) Left alone without pesky nurserymen trying to propagate it, it slowly develops into a pretty little thing, so we have a few to offer you at last. Probably not one of the first to try, but if you’re an established Epimedium fan, it’s worth a go.
Epimedium ‘Tama-no-genpei’ £4.50
Bright pink inner sepals contrast with pale lilac-pink petals fading into long white spurs. Reflowers in autumn more frequently than others we grow. Extremely pretty. From Japan, by way of Seattle.
Finally, the Good ol’ Boys, the tough, spreading, metaphorically and probably literally bomb-proof epimediums
our grandparents’ generation grew and has passed down to us. Most are old hybrids with at least one west Asian /
east European species in their background.
Epimedium x perralchicum ‘Lichtenberg’ £4
German clone of the superb tough and easy bright yellow flowered hybrid with glossy evergreen leaves. On close inspection, you see the small red-spurred petals against the big rounded yellow sepals.
Epimedium pinnatum ssp. colchicum L321 AGM £4
One of the former’s parents, in Roy Lancaster’s distinctive collection. Pure yellow, and tough.
Epimedium pubigerum £4
Not the showiest, with little creamy flowers, but they are held clear above the evergreen leaves, which make a dense, slowly expanding clump. Coming from northern Turkey (OK, it just gets into Bulgaria and Georgia too) it is remarkably tolerant of summer drought. Just a few in case you should want one, perhaps with this last feature in mind.
Epimedium x rubrum AGM £4
Another tough but beautiful primary hybrid. Carmine sepals, white petals. The young leaves, a bit after flowering are red-netted, often spectacularly so. Old leaves often go deep red in winter.
Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’ £4
Soft yellow flowers over the bronze stained new leaves.
Epimedium x versicolor ‘Neosulphureum’ £4
Looks a lot like the previous. Big deal. But it flowers about a fortnight later. Now that could be useful.
Epimedium x versicolor ‘Discolor’ (=’Versicolor’) £4.50
Just as tough but less often seen. Sepals from coppery red to rose pink contrast with soft yellow petals. Winter foliage shiny dark red, young foliage nicely bronzed. Utterly lovely. I’m starting to think that nobody knows the difference between ‘Discolor’ and ‘Cupreum’, and that what we see nowadays may well be the same plant.
Epimedium x warleyense £4
Classic tough hybrid with unique burnt orange flowers. Semi-evergreen, but tidy off the old leaves in winter to show off the flowers.
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