Karen in epi gardenFrontPost

Welcome to Garden Vision Epimediums, featuring the best selection of Bishops caps, Barrenworts and Fairy wings in the United States. Epimediums make the perfect addition to your woodland shade garden. Their delicate, fragile beauty belies their tough, long-lasting nature.

Many gardeners know these plants simply as ground covers for dry shade, but recent hybrids and new species discoveries have added a whole new dimension to this intriguing genus. The Epimediums in our collection represent the collecting and hybridizing efforts of Epimedium expert, Darrell Probst.

You can see here the Epimediums listed in our print catalog, but with even more photos. Download an order form to send in by mail or by fax. Browse through the main catalogue, or you can sort by several characteristics including flower color, species, habit, etc.

If you have a suggestion, question or just want to let us know what you think, please send me an email karen@epimediums.com.

You can order Epimediums by either by mail or fax.  Or if you prefer buying your plants in person, we’ve scheduled two Open Nursery Weekends for 2014 where you can see the plants growing in a garden setting here at the nursery. The dates are Fri. – Sun. May 2-4 or May 9-11; 10am-4pm. Or you can buy plants  at one of our upcoming off-site sales throughout the Northeast during the growing season. We ship within the United States during June, September and October. Happy reading!

Karen Perkins


 Fri.-Sun., May 2-4 & May 9-11, 2014; 10am-4pm  

Rain or Shine!

View Epimediums in garden beds

Despite this year’s lingering cold (and snow), we are forging ahead, cleaning up the beds and winter’s detritus and planning for our two annual Open Nursery weekends. For those of you within reasonable driving distance, this is the best way to really see the plants in a garden setting in order to determine how they will settle into your own garden. We are located right on the Common in the small rural town of Phillipston.

As we are a mail order nursery, we are normally closed to the public, however, we open for viewing and sales during peak bloom. Feel free to bring your camera if you wish.

Please note that not every variety listed in the catalog or website will be available for sale these days (but I usually have a few extra treasures that are not listed in either), so if you have specific varieties on your wish list, place your order ahead of time (give me at least a couple of days to pull your plants) and specify a pick up date during this event.

  • Open House plants for saleTo protect our research collection, please leave children and pets at home.
  • Be aware there are no available restroom facilities on site and no nearby public restrooms. We really are “out in the boonies”, so if you are looking for lunch, we will have restaurant recommendations, but most are 5-10+ miles away. We will have some light refreshments available.
  • Wear good walking shoes. Our nursery is on a generally level spot, but is set up as a working nursery and the ground may be soft/muddy in spots.
  • On Sat. May 10, Phillipston is having its annual town-wide yard sale. Maps will be available on the Common for $1 (to benefit the local Girl Scouts).
  • Directions:
    Epimedium path

    Epimedium path

    10 Templeton Rd (on the Common), Phillipston, MA  (across the street from the Library/Town Hall Annex)

  • (GPS users: Phillipston Center) From Rte. 2 take exit 19 (Phillipston). Turn left (west) on Rte 2A toward the town of Phillipston. Take immediate left just past the King Phillip Motel/Restaurant onto Baldwinville Rd toward Phillipston Center. In 1.4 miles you will approach the Common as the road bears right in front of the Elementary School. Go straight ahead at this curve, and continue around with the Common on your left, until you pass the town hall on your right. The nursery is behind the salmon Cape on the Common. Park on the street where parking is permitted or in the parking lot across the street. Enter the nursery on foot from either Templeton or Barre Road.  Discreet Epimedium signs and balloons will direct you.

E. xperralchicum'Wisley'DSC00129

Beautiful late season foliage of Epimedium xperralchicum ‘Wisley’

Last summer, as I was weeding late one quiet afternoon in the nursery, I was struck by the understated beauty of the foliage of many of the Epimediums surrounding me. I decided to focus this article on green summer foliage, or the “sensible shoes” of the Epimedium world. Epimediums,  by their very nature, are not “in your face” kinds of plants, especially during the summer, when they are known more for their subtle, elegant foliage beauty. I have chosen the following selections as exceptional, particularly durable types that add structure and a long season of handsome foliage interest to the garden. Many of the newer Chinese species have exceptional, large, spiny leaflets of good substance, worthy of specimen plant status in the garden. But here, I am focusing on the leafier, faster-growing plants (at least in our short Massachusetts growing season) that blend, rather than stand out in the garden, that is, until you take a closer look. I know that this isn’t a very sexy topic, but for the serious gardener, it is an important one. And I would like to share my expertise as someone who had the extreme good fortune of being able to compare hundreds of different types, side by side. The following varieties have impressed me with their foliage quality as well as how they hold up through drought and later wintry cold, giving shape and form to the garden. Many of the varieties I list also put on a spectacular spring show, but I made my selections by focusing on the qualities of their mature foliage late in the growing season. The first plant to catch my eye was E. xperralchicum ‘Wisley’. The sun was low in the sky and caught the sheen of its particularly handsome, large, rounded, glossy leaflets. I even walked over to another patch of it growing in a different area of the garden, just to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me. For many years, this clone didn’t distinguish itself in my mind as being all that much different from the other E. x perralchicums and E. pinnatum ssp. colchicums.  But in my experience, it bears the shiniest foliage of all of the clones that I grow. Difficult to describe, the surface of the leaflets “puffs” up between the veins, forming many angled facets that reflect the sunlight. A running evergreen groundcover Epimedium, it bears spires of small, cheerful lemon-yellow blooms in early spring. This plant alone inspired me to take note of others in my collection for their subtle, yet useful, summer foliage beauty. A second evergreen spreader worthy of attention is E. pinnatum ssp. colchicum L321, one of my favorites for its smaller, more delicate leaflets that give a unique textural component to a groundcover bed. It has similar flowers to ‘Wisley’ with similar spreading rhizomes growing 6-8” a year, but a much different shape and size to the leaflets. Both are low-growing at 8-10” high. Another wavy edged, deep green summer beauty is E. x ‘Making Waves’ although it is not as evergreen as the former two types, and is a clumper, rather than a spreader. It does hold up well through summer drought. It provides a beautiful late spring bloom (later than most other deciduous Epimediums) with its long-spurred mauve and soft pink flowers with new spring leaflets softly edged in a dark band. Two other clumpers with less flamboyant spring foliage are E. xyoungianum ‘Grape Fizz’ and E. xyoungianum ‘Azusa’.  Both are relatively small plants, forming neat clumps. Grape Fizz’ is literally covered with soft grape-purple blooms over lime-green foliage with a brown tint in spring. Azusa’ has beautiful heart shaped leaves with a “star” shape over the veins that appears in spring, but unlike most other foliage color, it remains over the summer, contrasting with the deep green foliage. The medium-sized crisp white flowers on red pedicels give this plant a clean appearance. Both have exceptional foliage all season long, well into late fall/early winter here in Massachusetts. I would consider them both to be semi-evergreen, as they retain their green leaves until the weather really turns brutal. E. x versicolor ‘Cherry Tart’stands out to me for its unusual hot pink and medium pink flowers (most Epimediums described as pink, are actually lavender), and its different foliage. The leaflets are rounded, heart-shaped, and retain their fresh green color through the season turning different shades in fall, depending on the weather. Some years the same plants will be an unusual mustard color, while during others it darkens to a deep purple. E. x Enchantress’ is another low-growing spreader, but with a much different texture to the foliage. Not an aggressively spreader, ‘Enchantress’ lives up to its name by providing long delicate, slightly spiny dark evergreen leaves that give a fine texture to the small patch that it expands to over several years. The leaves turn a reliable, rich red each autumn. In spring it holds pale pink flowers wide-sepaled  flowers over delicately speckled light green foliage.  Two other varieties with similar, but larger, wider, arrow-shaped leaflets, held on taller plants are E. x ‘Domino’ and E. x Asiatic Hybrid’  Both are clump forming, with ‘Domino’ being the larger of the two at 16”. They both reveal their affiliation to the barberry family, with their slightly spiny, spear-shaped, semi-evergreen leaflets that hold up well in the garden. In spring ‘Domino’ sports maroon flecking on its leaflets, while Asiatic Hybrid’ leaflets emerge a delicate salmon pink. Both varieties put up a second flush of colored foliage after they bloom. E. x ‘Lilac Cascade’ has caught my eye over many years in the nursery for how well it holds up in the garden over the long, grueling summer season. Each individual plant makes a substantial clump over time, with semi-evergreen heart shaped leaflets.  Lilac flowers and red rimmed spring leaflets that start out in hot pink complete the ensemble. So I hope that this will inspire you to look at your Epimediums at a time other than during their spring show, and appreciate them for their beauty and structure that their foliage provides during other seasons of the year. This year’s specialty collection is called “It’s Not Easy Being Green’. It includes both spreading and clumping types, with a variety of foliage shapes and plant heights. Each selection is notable for their exceptional summer/fall/winter foliage that will form the backbone to a great shade garden all year long. As always I look forward to serving you– our loyal and enthusiastic customers. Thank you for your patronage and for helping to preserve, appreciate and perpetuate Barrenworts, Bishop’s Caps and Fairywings.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Karen Perkins

E. grandiflorum 'Circe'

E. grandiflorum ‘Circe’

Many people complain that some Epimediums flower beneath their foliage, thus taking away from the display. That usually doesn’t spoil their intrigue for me, as the leaves are so immature and tiny during bloom, that I don’t think that they obscure the blossoms until the end of flowering, when the later flowers can be engulfed in the enthusiasm of the expanding foliage. Last year, one of my customers suggested that I list which types hold their flower heads high above the leaves, so I am acting on it and dedicating this year’s article to types that do just that. Not surprisingly, many are hybrids, the result of the breeder’s efforts to create a more dazzling spring show of flowers. The following selections not only bloom well above the foliage, but bloom in profusion when sited in bright shade and humus-rich, well drained soils, creating quite a show. Instead of relegating these shining stars to the ‘shady woodland border’ why not place them in a prominent spot in your garden as a specimen perennial, in as much sunlight as they can tolerate in your region for best growth and bloom.

E. pubigerum

E. pubigerum

Two species immediately come to mind, E. brevicornu and E. stellulatum, both from China and sporting billowing panicles of small star-shaped white flowers held high above heart shaped, deciduous papery-thin leaves in the case of the former, and rounded to arrow shaped, toothed evergreen leaflets on the latter. The two also are very early bloomers with long lasting bloom stems, and particularly cold tolerant for Epimediums. A third species, Epimedium pubigerum, a native of Turkey, also holds its towering columns of white or light pink flowers up high. Shaped like little “molars”, the flowers make up for their small size in their great numbers. This species is particularly drought tolerant, with semi-evergreen heart shaped leaves.

E. x Pink Chanpagne

E. x Pink Champagne

Two strong growing evergreen hybrids created by Darrell Probst from plants collected in China are E. x ‘Domino’ and E. x ‘Pink Champagne’. Sibling seedlings. I often think of ‘Domino’ as the male, and ‘Pink Champagne’ as it’s female counterpart. Both send up long sprays of spidery flowers well above the foliage- ‘Domino’ has a white flower with cranberry cup, and ‘P.C.’ has a pink wash to both flowers and the new growth. Both are very floriferous and often re-bloom and produce second growth foliage if they are happy in their environment.  They each have a graceful elegance about them, throwing their leaves out in a wide-spreading arch. Their new leaves are flecked with maroon spots, almost like gold flakes floating in a hopeful prospector’s pan. If you are looking for a specimen Epimedium for a special place in your garden, either of these cultivars fit the bill.

On the shorter side of the Epimedium spectrum, two selections of E. xyoungianum are ‘Fairy Dust’ and ‘Be My Valentine’. They bloom later and are covered in silvery-purple/white and hot cherry pink /white flowers respectively. Similarly E. grandiflorum ‘Circe’ will produce a vibrant patch of red-violet blooms atop the foliage, a color that easily reads from a distance. “Fairy Dust’ and ‘Circe’ both have a slight brownish tinge to the new growth, a backdrop which enhances the bloom color. Another yellow-flowered diminuitive reblooming hybrid from Kelly Dodson is E. x ‘Sunshowers’, with a raft of soft yellow flowers above new foliage speckled with maroon flecks.

E. x Flame Thrower

E. x Flame Thrower

A Diana Reeck introduction, E. x ‘Making Waves’, and Darrell Probst’s E. x ‘Flame Thrower’ are both late-season bloomers. ‘Making Waves’ as an undulating, banded edge to the new spring foliage. Its perky lavender flowers are held high above this wave of foliage for a good show. If it is an evergreen, particularly drought tolerant and long-blooming plant you want, E. x ‘Flame Thrower’ fits the bill. The flowers are held horizontally out to the sides of a mound of handsome, arrow-shaped evergreen leaflets. They don’t provide a splash of concentrated color like the others, rather the large red and yellow flowers are best observed up close.

You will find in this year’s offerings a Head’s Up!’ collection of plants featured in this article to get you started, at a discount.

As always I look forward to serving you– our loyal and enthusiastic customers. Thank you for your patronage and for helping to preserve, appreciate and perpetuate Barrenworts, Bishop’s Caps and Fairywings.

Karen Perkins