On a dark, wet day like today, it’s cheering to see all the yellows in the garden: primroses (hundreds of them, they grow like weeds here), daffodils and in one corner, a small tree smothered in pale yellow, fluffy catkins. Most people have those things so today I thought I’d write about the lesser known epimediums, or Barrenwort.
There were no epimediums in the garden when I moved here and I could see just the space for one. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the variety I wanted and settled for Epimedium ‘Frohnleiten’ (from Crocus). It’s a good garden plant, which has the RHS Award of Garden Merit. The leaves are a bright, glossy green throughout the year, as you can see in last year's post here This year I cut down all the leaves early so that the flowers show up better.
Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of money on beautiful, newly introduced epimediums which I fell in love with. Sadly, perhaps because they came from Japan, they hated my clay soil and never ‘did’ for me. ‘Frohnleiten’, like the next one I’m going to mention, is totally reliable and will grow anywhere.
In my old garden I had two big clumps of Epimedium ‘Sulphureum’, which you can see in old posts here and here. (You will need to scroll down to find the right plant.) It’s another AGM plant. Why do I prefer it? The flowers are a pale, primrose yellow which to my eyes is prettier than the rather brash yellow of ‘Frohnleiten’. The new leaves are just darling: a soft, pale green tinged with bronze. In winter the whole plant turns bronzed and crisped and you really do have to cut the stems down early in the year or you won’t see the flowers at all. Perhaps one day I’ll find it again.