Wonderful woodlanders with spring flowers and good foliage at almost any time of year. Some incredibly tough plants that look incredibly dainty and a few that do need cossetting.
Many view Epimedium as dull, Victorian, shade plants but following the many recent introductions from Asia in recent years and the inevitable raft of hybrids that have occurred in cultivation since they are anything but dull now. Many of the new introductions have brought a range of interesting foliage shapes as well as some amazing flower types including long spurred and clouds of tiny flowers.
Most forms of Epimedium are easy to grow in a shady border requiring little more than a decent, humusy soil that doesn't dry out too much in summer. The older deciduous and semi-deciduous types do benefit from having the previous year's foliage sheared off in late winter to display the spring flowers but do not be tempted to cut back the evergreen foliage of the new Asian types in the same way, they have a habit of dropping dead if you do!
A cracking long-spurred E. grandiflorum x E. koreanum hybrid with rich purple pink flowers with pale, almost white spurs. Flowers up to 4cm across in spring. Deciduous. 25cm. Good woodland soil in shade.
Found in Hunan, China in 1994 this lovely, rare species has short stems bearing sprays of largish (up to 3cm) flowers, this sepals white and the petals a rich purple-brown. Slowly creeping clumps to perhaps 15cm high. Good woodland soil in shade.
A recent introduction from China, this species has almost prickly evergreen foliage and very large, long spurred, light yellow flowers in late spring. Good soil in shade. New foliage is stunning with reddish patches on coppery green leaves.