Epimedium 2010

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Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Epimedium timeline threesome - Photos 11-20:  E. x versicolor 'Versicolor', E. pinnatum ssp. colchicum 'Thunderbolt', E. grandiflorum f. flavescens 'Chocolate Lace'.

These three species are planted side by side along a garden path.  The metamorphosis of each plant's appearance through an extended season is rather dramatic and visually captivating.  The star is E. x versicolor 'Versicolor' with soft pink and yellow blooms atop a shield of intensely colored red spring foliage highlighting a network of luminous green veins.  The glorious foliage starts to overtake the flowers.

The evergreen foliage of E. pinnatum ssp. colchicum 'Thunderbolt' had been cut off, as it must to better appreciate the spikes of bright yellow verbascum-like flowers.  The soft juvenile spring foliage quickly surpasses and semi-conceals the blooms.

E. grandiflorum f. flavescens 'Chocolate Lace' is a study of understatement, with fine chocolate suffused leaves accentuating green veins, and pale yellow flowers partly hidden below the canopy of emerging leaves.

By early to mid May, these Epimediums transform into beautiful foliar accents, most of the flowers gone or hidden by the foliage, and starting to set seed, yet indispensable for their season-long foliar value.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Epimedium timeline threesome - Photos 21-30:  E. x versicolor 'Versicolor', E. pinnatum ssp. colchicum 'Thunderbolt', E. grandiflorum f. flavescens 'Chocolate Lace'.

These three species are planted side by side along a garden path.  The metamorphosis of each plant's appearance through an extended season is rather dramatic and visually captivating. 

By June, the famous "second flush" of foliar growth is happening on many epimediums. With E. pinnatum ssp. colchicim 'Thunderbolt', the spring foliage has settled in to a shiny deep green color, and new leaves are much lighter green, for a nice effect. With E. x versicolor 'Versicolor', the second leaf flush is a medley of intensely variegated red-tinged green-veined foliage to fresh light green foliage against shiny darker green foliage, very special!

In photo #24, we see the fall foliar patch of E. koreanum in yellow, an aggressive spreader. In the upper right is E. grandiflorum f. flavescens 'Chocolate Lace' still green in leaf on October 22, 2009.  Just below it is E. x versicolor 'Versicolor' with foliage appearing near black, and evergreen E. pinnatum ssp. colchicum 'Thunderbolt' below it.

In photo #25, we see the same eppie threesome, but further back, showing a large clump of E. x rubrum in fall foliar color,  a pale reddish-tan color.  Also, notice that E. grandiflorum f. flavescens 'Chocolate Lace' has foliage turned yellow just a week later.

In photos #26-28, we see all three "eppies", but it is E. grandiflorum f. flavescens 'Chocolate Lace' that turns a really bright yellow by mid November.

The last two photos, #29-30 show the initial two evergreen epimediums in their December color. These are truly plants of full seasonal interest.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

No one thinks of Epimediums as suitable for sunny locations, but they can be superb in the sun as well.  Perhaps part of the issue, there are much fewer number of plants willing to grow in dry shade where Epimedium excels, who needs yet another plant willing to grow in the sun.  I want to explore this more in the next few years because some species and cultivars have richly colored foliage that would otherwise just show up as green when grown in shade.  I've never had seedlings appear in the drier sunny locations, only in more moist sahded locales.

My favorite example is with E. x warleyense, which not only excels unfazed in a full sun position, it grows happily in full sun (although spreading somewhat exuberantly), and shows a long season on a rich red to orangish leaf coloring and venation lasting well into the summer.  When this eppie is grown in shade, apart from the short season of orange flowers, the foliage is green and unremarkable.

Here are some photos:

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

The question gets asked to suggest low Epimediums for the rock garden, sort of depends on the scale of the garden I suppose, but even though some species and cultivars are rather low, many have a second flush of foliage after flowering that can more than double the apparent size of the plant.  But here are some suggestions:

E. x setosum - delicate clumping sort, several clones, adorable leaves & delicate white flowers.
(photo uploaded)
E. x setosum 'Nanum'- 5" tall, second flush to 10" tall.
E. grandiflorum 'Nanum' - 3-5" in bloom, 10" after second flush (choice)
E. grandiflorum var. coelestre - Japanese, from "high alpine heights", 9", greenish yellow flowers
E. grandiflorum var. coelestre 'Alpine Beauty'- 6" tall "tight bun", light yellow
E. grandiflorum var. higoense (including cultivars 'Bandit', 'Saturn', 'Saturn'), all low growing
E. grandiflorum f. flavescens 'Nanum'- 6" light yellow, 12-16" second foliar flush
E. elachyphyllum - 6" tall, 2" rhizomes, simple single leaflets, evergreen.
...also various smaller cultivars such as E. x youngianum 'Liliputian'.  (photo uploaded)

Watch out for some of the other low growers that romp around and spread aggressively, including E. alpinum 'Shrimp Girl', pauciflorum, rhizomatosum, unless they get introduced to wilder parts of the garden, or placed in a planting specifically designed to account for their spread.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Regarding naming hybrids in any hybridization effort, I hope not to do this:
http://www.plantsnouveau.com/2009/05/18/epimedium-purple-pixie/
(scroll down to the overall plant view)

...that is, introduce a plant as something special and unique, when in fact it looks like many other grandiflorums that already exist.  To my eyes, this 'Purple Pixie' doesn't look very different than the type form of E. grandiflorum (photo 1) or "var. violaceum" (photo 2) which has showy brownish-reddish-purple spring foliage.  I'm sure 'Purple Pixie' is a nice enough plant (almost all eppies are), but how many more very similar cultivars do we need, when there is potential for so much more.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Epimedium pubigerum is an excellent species, and quite distinct. What I like about it is the foliage is completely evergreen here in New England (USDA Zone 5), which says a lot in this tough climate.  And the small white flowers (pinkish in some forms) held aloft above the foliage, have a definite charm.  A quick search on photos for this species in my library yields some less-than-satisfactory shots, but you'll get the general impression.

In the first photo, on the left is E. pubigerum with modest displays of white flowers.  Looking closely, some of the previous year's evergreen foliage is still present in the lower right (I'm not always as timely as I should be in cutting out the previous year's growth).  In the upper left is Epimedium grandiflorum f. flavescens 'La Rocaille', the original plant bought in 1973 or 1974!

In the second photo, we see the "epimediumesque" second flush of foliage, which lends a second season to Epimedium viewing, where the newer foliage takes on dramatically different leaf coloration than the maturing spring foliage.  This is basically a June phenomenon in my area.

The third photo shows a classic situation, with the previous year's evergreen growth at the base (darker green) yet still in good condition after a harsh winter, a fresh flush of lively light green slightly red-flushed new season's growth, and the lovely modest sprays of white flowers.  There are winters here and there (the relatively snowless types) where the evergreen leaves suffer badly, but in most years they survive just fine.

The forth and final photo shows the same plant back in 2006, where I did indeed cut off the old foliage in late winter/early spring, so no dark green old foliage is present.  I actually think it looks best when there is contrast between the new foliage and older foliage.

In summary, this is a rock-solid species, slowly spreading, extremely hardy, quietly beautiful, and recommended.  It is also quite drought resistant, as I find most eppies are.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Today we go down from the mountains were we have been the last week. At home I can take a closer look at your excellent pictures. At the cabin I have to use my cellphone to get access to Internet and that is a bit slow. You have edited a book, Mark!
I have lots of trees on my property so I don't get too much sun. My eppies normally have not that rich leaf color as yours. And I have not all those cultivars either! So now I have a problem, do I cut more trees? Or have I to plant in shade. But for sure I have to try and get more of those fabulous cultivars!

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Hoy wrote:

Today we go down from the mountains were we have been the last week. At home I can take a closer look at your excellent pictures. At the cabin I have to use my cellphone to get access to Internet and that is a bit slow. You have edited a book, Mark!
I have lots of trees on my property so I don't get too much sun. My eppies normally have not that rich leaf color as yours. And I have not all those cultivars either! So now I have a problem, do I cut more trees? Or have I to plant in shade. But for sure I have to try and get more of those fabulous cultivars!

This is basically a "transfer" from information I posted to SRGC, but wanted to post here with a North American context, and then add to it all, now that NARGS Forum is up and running.  Epimediums are a fantastic solution to the often bemoaned problem of having to much shade to grow "normal" garden plants and perennials.  Regarding leaf coloring, many will color as richly in sun or shade, but there are a few cases, such as E. x warleyense that I highlighted, that will grow and flower just fine in shade, but will only show strong leaf coloration when grown in brighter light and sunny conditions.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Epimedium Hybrid - Posting 1a

Hello Epimedium lovers, I thought I would put together a couple posts to illustrate a hybrid that occured between Epimedium brevicornu and E. membranaceum.  This part of my post will primarily show E. brevicornu, one of the very best eppies in my opinion.  What I like about this species, is the perky upright growth, with sprays of small white and yellow flowers clearly displayed above the foliage.  It also blooms for an exceptionally long time, being among the first to bloom, but also one of the last.  It is a clumper, so no spreading habit to worry about.  And it has lovely red-mottled foliage in spring.

I start with a photo in 2007 showing the upright profile, followed by a series of views taken in 2008 & 2009 as it pushed into bloom.  The next to last photo is an overhead shot, showing Saruma henryi in bloom, just getting a glimpse of E. brevicornu to the right of a boulder, and in the lower right, the foliage and emerging buds of E. membranaceum.

E. membranaceum is on my personal top 10 list; it starts flowering late, has enormous spidery bright yellow flowers with white-pink-spotted sepals.  A low grower (and another clumper), the species is remarkable because it is an ever-bloomer, with low ascending branched stems and sprays of golden spiders, blooms all summer long and into the fall.  As such, it is an excellent candidate for hybridization.  While E. brevicornu started blooming long before E. membranaceum, there is a brief overlap of bloom time; a photo depicts this overlap.  Notice the hirsute stems and seed pods on E. brevicornu in the last photo.

I will follow up later with Posting 1b, with photos of E. membranaceum and the resulting hybrid that flowered for the first time in 2009.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Epimedium Hybrid - Posting 1b

Installment 2 of a 3-part message:

Here are some views of E. membranaceum.  See my previous post where I talk about the attributes of this ever-blooming species.

In the first view there is Saruma henryi again (yellow flowers) on the left, Trillium catesbaei, Epimedium membranaceum at centerstage, and just behind it is E. brevicornu mostly finished but still some small white flowers coming and those fuzzy flower stems.  A worm's-eye view of Trillium catesbaei and E. membranaceum in the second photo.  Photo 3 shows a typical inflorescence of E. membranaceum (notice one inflorescence of E. brevicornu in the upper right), and the 4th photo is a detail view showing the sepals... white, lightly spotted with red or pink dots.  In the 5th photo, nothing very different about this photo, but take a look at the date in the photo title, this eppie is still blooming on October 26th!

In the final installment, I will show photos of one selected hybrid, and compare the hybrid's flowers photographically with E. brevicornu.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

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