Epimedium

The Epimedium has been named Perennial of the Year 2014 in Germany

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I can’t help being sceptical and thinking this is just a gimmick for the garden centres to cash in on, organized by the Bund deutscher Staudengärtner – the “Association for German Perennial Gardeners”. On the other hand there may be a few different varieties on offer, although I didn’t see any at the garden centres’ special “open day” last weekend!

Epimedium “Amber Queen”

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In shades of gold and peach Amber Queen glows even on a rainy day, dancing above the delicate foliage.

The German common name is Elfenblume, which means “elf flower”… I wonder if the flowers are meant to be little hats for the elves… or do you need to be an elf, down near the ground, in order to appreciate the beauty of this plant? My Man of Many Talents says they remind him of a jester’s hat – yes, they do look like them, albeit without the bells on the ends!

They love filtered sunlight in shady corners, such as under trees, for protection from strong sun.

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The spidery flowers, suspended on almost invisible stems, give the impression they are hovering like mini space ships.

These extraordinary flowers are also accompanied by lovely leaves. Even after the flowers have long gone over the heart-shaped foliage, with pretty tinges of red or orange in the spring, provide attractive ground cover.  Mine are evergreen, and the old brown foliage can be cut back in spring as soon as the new growth can be seen. One of mine is in a warm but shady spot and flowers any time between March and May, but this one is in a much cooler position and flowers several weeks later.

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The English common names range from  bishop’s hat and fairy wings to barrenwort and horny goat weed! (The latter referring to its supposed aphrodisiac effects.)

If you have ever grown Epimediums please share your experiences! Do you have a favourite?