Barrenwort, Bishop's Cap, Fairywings
You may have heard "The garden is magic and you are the magician!" Try epimediums and you'll see the magic displayed right in front of you. These aren't new plants at all, they are special plants, and thus far they are seriously underused, and often unknown to gardeners. All that is changing as the nursery trade and some hard working plant hunters set out to offer gardeners new and interesting varieties.
Epimediums deserve consideration for rock gardens, woodlands, dry, shady areas, under trees and along rock lines and walls. Their delicate, spidery, star-shaped blooms and neat leathery foliage make writing a good description difficult. Once you see one, you're sure to ask yourself why you have missed them for so long. These are tough, long lived perennials which grow along by rhizomes with tenacity and beauty.
The world's authority on this fine plant is Darrell Probst. If you have a minute, take a look at The Epimedium Page. If your curiosity continues, check out Chapter 10, King of Epimediums, Garden Vision-Darrell Probst, The Plant Hunter's Garden by Bobby J. Ward.This is a nine page journey complete with enough photos to make you want to have your own collection. And if you need a final complement to these resources, go to W. George Schmid's The Encyclopedia of Shade Plants and turn to the section on epimediums.
Here at Vermont Flower Farm epimediums are about 10 years "new" to us. We have grown them without any winter protection, in full shade, partial shade, along a walkway, and under a huge James MacFarland lilac in full summer sun. They bloom beautifully in late spring and sometimes again in early September. They aren't the fastest growing ground cover in Vermont but they bring a texture and color palette that offers more opportunity and little after-planting care. Come see!