The cold, dreary remnants of last week’s late snow storm has quickly melted to uncover the dusty, sand-covered winter’s aftermath. The view out my window isn’t particularly promising at the moment, so it’s hard to believe that I will be hosting 14 Open Nursery Days of my own, very soon. A few signs of spring help to keep me hopeful– the birds in their spring chatter, the first crocus and Iris reticulata, and the snowdrops are still standing tall, despite the variable late winter weather. Transitioning from more sedentary winter work to the frenzy of the spring nursery is always a shock to my system. But with the ever-lengthening days, I am getting excited for the delights and challenges of spring.

Epimedium x 'Serendipity' white flowers maroon speckled leaves

Epimedium x ‘Serendipity’, a great, new, floriferous, fine-textured, low growing ground cover.

This year I have a few newer offerings worthy of mention. One in particular that I am excited about is Epimedium x ‘Serendipity’ a chance seedling of E. pauciflorum which is more attractive and floriferous than E. pauciflorum could ever hope to be. It is a rare, white- flowered spreading ground cover Epimedium, that stays low, grows thickly, and spreads, but not too rapidly. Its small, spring leaflets are edged and splotched with deep maroon markings, making it an excellent, textural addition to even a small garden.

Epimedium x Ninja stars spreading groundcover

Epimedium x ‘Ninja Stars’ is a low, thickly massed ground cover that shows its Barberry Family affiliation through its spiny, evergreen leaflets.

Another exceptional spreader is Epimedium x ‘Ninja Stars’. This Darrell Probst hybrid is a cross between two still as yet unidentified Chinese species is heartier and hardier than many of the Chinese species in our Zone 5b climate. It boasts evergreen, arrow-shaped, spiny leaves bronzed in the spring. Long stems of spidery yellow flowers adorn the plant in mid-late May here in north central Massachusetts.

Uvularia sessilifolia 'Blizzard'

The variegated Uvularia sessilifolia ‘Blizzard’ provides a bright spot in the woodland garden.

Always popular are the shade-loving companion plants that I sell along with the Epimediums. One that I have propagated because of the interest that it has garnered during my Open Nursery Days is

 

 

 

Uvularia sessilifolia ‘Blizzard‘, a decorative variegated form of our native bellwort (often called Merry Bells), discovered by the eagle-eyed Darrell Probst on a local collecting trip.

I hope that some of you will be able to visit my garden this spring during my extended  Open Nursery Days, which for the first time, include several weekdays during the expected peak of Epimedium bloom. Yet again my open days have a bit of an odd flow to allow me to attend other specialty plant sales around the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Plan your visit during the following days: Fri. & Sun. Apr. 28 & 30/  Fri. May 5–every day through–Sunday, May 14 / Fri. & Sun. May 20 & 22, 2017. As spring weather can be unpredictable, I will post updates on how the plants are progressing to help you time your visit.

And if you can’t make it to one of my Open Nursery Days, one of those off-site sales may just be more convenient for you. I have added two new ones this year, the Great Gardens and Landscaping Symposium in Woodstock, VT on April 21 & 22 and the Fall Hosta Forum in Edinboro, PA on Sept. 15 & 16. And if all else fails, there is always mail order. I ship in June, September through mid-October.

And for those of you who might need a reminder of how cruel April weather can be to early emerging garden plants like Epimediums, and how you can try to outsmart her, click here or scroll down to read last year’s spring article– Working With Mother Nature. Last year was one of fluctuating late spring temperature extremes, and I managed to come through relatively unscathed (knock on wood). You may pick up a useful tip for your own garden. And although it looks now to be smooth sailing until our frost free weather begins, you never know what Mother Nature has in store.

Here’s to a thrilling, exhausting, renewing, over-the-top spring season.

Karen Perkins