Epimedium X versicolor ‘Sulphureum’

Like some exquisite little ballet dancer, this epimedium looks ethereal but is immensely tough. The plant is delicately beautiful in leaf and flower, but makes strong, weed-proof ground-cover. Ideally. I would plant it in a shady spot with some moisture in the soil, but dry, shady places are so difficult to plant, and epimediums will grow in them, that I am suggesting them for these conditions. Occasional mulches of leafmould or compost will supply humus and preserve the scarce moisture.

A nearly-evergreen hardy perennial, this hybrid slowly forms dense clumps of leaves about 12 inches (30 cm) high. These are the chief attraction, for they are of charming form, toothed and heart-shaped, and change colour.through the year, being fresh green in spring, when they are very small, changing to bright green as they expand, and to bronze in autumn. In winter they turn brown and dry, but are usually left on the plant until early spring to protect the flowers from frost. As soon as you detect flower buds in the heart of the clumps, shear the leaves away, or the flowers will be buried in old foliage, and watch the slender stems grow until they are topped with sprays of tiny yellow flowers, spurred like columbines.

Plant them, if you are condemning them to a dry place, with plenty of compost or leafmould, the planting’ dis-tance depending on whether or not you are impatient for ground-cover. If you are, plant them 12 inches (30 cm) apart and be prepared to divide them after two or three years; otherwise I suggest 2 feet (60 cm) apart, and leave them in peace for a long time.

There are other delightful epimediums with red, pink or white flowers and varying leaf colour jn autumn.

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