A Fairy Wing and a Prayer

Epimediums have long been a staple of the woodland perennial garden, but it wasn’t until plantsmen like Darrell Probst (US) and Mikinori Ogisu (Japan) began discovering and sharing the amazing wealth of unknown Chinese fairy wing species that their popularity began to take off.

It wasn’t until 1998 that epimediums begin appearing in the Plant Delights catalog, because before that time, the available horticultural offerings just weren’t that impressive. Plants like Epimedium x youngianum ‘Niveum’ are just hard to get excited about…if you’ve got much of a horticultural pulse. Sadly, that’s still the most dominant choice at most garden retailers.

Epimedium x youngianum ‘Niveum’

Another reason epimediums have been slow to become mainstream is the difficulty in getting good images. Because epimediums are so three-dimensional and prone to flutter in the wind, it takes quite an effort to take good images. Single flower closeups, which are much easier to take, always make me skeptical about how nice the entire plant will look in the garden.

When we were preparing to offer epimediums for the first time, we were faced with the decision of which of the three common names to use; fairy wings, barrenwort, and horny goat weed. Well, it doesn’t take much marketing savvy to choose from that list. That said, if we’d known that porn megastar Ron Jeremy would soon have his own line of epimedium tablets for male enhancement purposes, we might have reconsidered.

PDN/JLBG epimedium trials and study area

Once we became enamoured with fairy wings, we did as OCD people are prone to do, and built an entire research structure for the study, development, and trial of epimediums. We currently grow over 330 different epimedium taxa…some for study, some for conservation, and some which have enough garden value to share. It usually takes us about five years to fully evaluate a new epimedium seedling, comparing it to all other varieties on the market.

Since 2000, we’ve introduced over 27 of our own epimedium selections with more in the queue. Here are a few that we’ve already introduced that have proven to be excellent performers. We hope you’ve tried them all.

So, what’s next? Here’s a sneak peak of some of selections that have passed the final stages of in-ground trialing and are ready to head to container production trials. Our standards include good garden vigor, good floral showiness, and uniqueness from all other epimediums on the market. We like to think our standards are pretty high. We’d love to hear which of these future introductions below are your favorites.

Favorites from this week in garden.

 

 

Dryopteris x australis3There’s so much going on in the garden now, it’s hard to know where to start.  The ferns are looking fabulous, and one of our favorites is the native Dryopteris x australis.  Yes, “australis” means from the south.  This 3-4′ tall fern grows well in moist or fairly dry soils.  Here’s the clump beside our shipping office. Epimedium Splish Splash

Epimedium ‘Splish Splash’ is in its second flowering spurt of the spring.  This re-flowering Plant Delights introduction is really quite special, both in foliage and in flower.

 

Eucomis Sparkling Burgundy combo with Verbena Lavender Frappe

Here’s a fun color echo combination of Eucomis ‘Sparkling Burgundy‘ and Verbena ‘Lavender Frappe’.  The textural difference in the two plants makes this vignette visually appealing.  Baptisia Pink Truffles3

 

Here’s our clump of Baptisia ‘Pink Truffles’ from the breeding work of our friend Hans Hansen at Walters Gardens.  This is the first named pink flowered baptisia….we are very pleased with its performance.Clematis recta Lime Close foliageClematis recta ‘Lime Close’ has been amazing this spring.  For years, I was under the mistaken impression that this wouldn’t grow in our heat…I was very wrong.  The non-vining Clematis ‘Lime Close’ is often sold under the marketing name Serious Black.  I love this plant!

 

Epimedium greenhouse

Epimedium greenhouseSometimes when walking through our production greenhouses, it’s hard to contain our excitement about all the cool plants.  For those unable to visit, here’s a shot from our epimedium greenhouses today…so many great new selections for the woodland garden!

 

Epimediums on Parade in the Garden

Epimedium Songbirds3

What an incredible week for epimediums here at Juniper Level.  The first photo is our introduction, Epimedium ‘Songbirds‘…an insanely heavily flowered yellow selection.Epimedium wushanense Starlite flower closeup

Epimedium wushanense ‘Starlite‘ is our selection of the amazing Chinese species, which boasts large terminal inflorescences on a plant that approaches 2’ tall.Epimedium zhushanense3

 

 

Epimedium zhushanense is another incredible Chinese species with large bicolor, spider-like flowers.  We think these are truly stunning in the woodland garden.