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Epimedium (Barrenwort or Bishop’s Hat)
at Digging Dog

Including Epimedium grandiflorum, Epimedium warleyense, Epimedium x youngianum, Epimedium x rubrum, and Epimedium x perralchicum

Epimedium

Barrenwort or Bishop’s Hat

Dense and leafy Epimedium is one of our most successful ground covers for the moist woodland setting. New heart-shaped leaves on wiry stems unfurl in spring with a rosy, marbled coloration that fades to green as summer approaches. In autumn, the marbling returns in coral and copper, enduring mild winters.

The tiny, unusual flowers (Bishop’s Hats) are held above the foliage in airy sprays, and resemble miniature Columbines. Durable and long-lived, Epimediums can adapt to drier conditions once established, spreading slowly and steadily. Both flowers and foliage are prized for small arrangements.

View a slideshow of plant images from this genus


Epimedium ‘Amber Queen’  full sun  partial shade
Epimedium  Amber Queen

Bred by Blackthorn Nursery owner Robin White, this brand new Epimedium flavum and Epimedium wushanense cross is adorned with droves of large warm-hued blooms. Arranged in an open fashion on long, nearly invisible black stems, the whimsical deep yellow flowers feature light blonde hooked spurs, red-tinged sepal backs and speckled petals, all melding together for an overall amber shade. Toothed and elongated, tidy heart-shaped foliage heralds spring with a bold russet mottling.

Blooms late March – May.

Size: 10" high x 18" wide; hardy to zone 5.

Epimedium ‘Amber Queen’ (P-1517)
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AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 2017


Epimedium x ‘Enchantress’  partial shade  shade lover  new plant

‘Enchantress’ is the prized outcome of legendary plantswoman Elizabeth Strangman’s cross between Epimedium dolichostemon and Epimedium leptorrhizum. Buoyant tiny lavender-colored buds and medium-sized silvery lilac flowers with purple inner segments loll above large elongated heart-shaped green leaves. Heightened by undulating margins plus red, henna and crimson brindling in the winter and early spring, this distinctive low growing evergreen can be enjoyed along a pathway or near your favorite bench.

Blooms March–April

Size: 6"–12" high x 12"–15" wide; hardy to zone 5.

Epimedium x ‘Enchantress’ (P-1932)
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Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Koji’  full sun  partial shade  shade lover  new plant

Fresh spring green foliage that’s flushed with cozy chestnut hues premiers large pastel flowers on pale apple green stems. Described by darker flip sides, pinkish lavender sepals plus spidery white-tipped and spurred lilac petals, a fine flood of fairytale-like blooms nearly conceals the handsome medium-sized habit of this easily maintained seldom offered Japanese gem.

Blooms late March–May

Size: 8"–10" high x 12" wide; hardy to zone 4.

Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Koji’ (P-1883)
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Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Lilafee’  full sun  partial shade
Lilac Fairy
Epimedium grandiflorum Lilafee

‘Lilafee’ is a delicate delight as a ground cover. Its loose, tall sprays of elegant, long-spurred, lavender violet blossoms rise from a bed of vigorous oval-shaped foliage, purply bronze when new, and bright green as it matures. A carpet of ‘Lilafee’ under a Cercidiphyllum will echo its coloration.

Blooms late March–May.

Size: 6"–8" high x 12" wide; hardy to zone 5.

Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Lilafee’ (P-0793)
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Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Purple Pixie’  full sun  partial shade  shade lover

With a name that’s quite apropos, this Richard Lighty introduction conjures fanciful flowers distinguished by vivid purple sepals and extended white spurs. Exquisitely detailed blooms dance on dark wire-thin stems above a marvelous bed of damson-flushed springtime foliage. Generating a compact, yet plucky ground cover, the heartlike leaves develop olive green hues and maroon margins as they mature.

‘Purple Pixie’ will impart enchanting accents to the dappled recesses of your garden, especially when nestled alongside Geranium ‘Claudine Dupont’. (pp#13,966)

Blooms April–May.

Size: 9"–12" high x 12"–15" wide; hardy to zone 5.

Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Purple Pixie’ (P-1694)
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Epimedium x perralchicum ‘Frohnleiten’  full sun  partial shade
Epimedium x perralchicum Frohnleiten

With a dainty style that defies its stoic nature, ‘Frohnleiten’ can handle dry conditions and is quick to colonize. Buoyant, loosely formed clusters of pendulous, vibrant yellow winged flowers perch above the tailored leafy clump. bright green veins dramatically pattern maroon-infused spring foliage, while summer brings verdant greenery, and autumn a florid fanfare that sometimes persists into winter.

Blooms April – May.

Size: 15" high x 12"–15" wide; hardy to zone 5.

Epimedium x perralchicum ‘Frohnleiten’ (P-1447)
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Epimedium perralderianum  full sun  partial shade
Epimedium perralderianum

Bronze serrated leaves in compact clumps are a spring prelude to bright starlike yellow flowers. The foliage turns green and lasts throughout the year, tolerating the shade of Styrax orViburnum.

Blooms March–April.

Size: 8"–10" high x 16" wide; hardy to zone 5.

Epimedium perralderianum (P-0061)
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Epimedium ‘Pink Elf’  full sun  partial shade

Originating from a Epimedium leptorrhizum and Epimedium pubescens cross, this delightful Robin White hybrid makes a vigorously spreading clump. Dappled with green and auburn shades, the evergreen leaves loll beneath a fairy’s fest of pink flowers marked by purple tinges and bronze-colored cups on thin stiff stems. (pp#17228)

Blooms late March – May.

Size: 12" high x 18" wide; hardy to zone 5.

Epimedium ‘Pink Elf’ (P-1518)
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Epimedium pinnatum ssp. colchicum  full sun  partial shade  shade lover  drought tolerant

Dwelling throughout the mountainous regions near Georgia’s Black Sea coast, this prized Epimedium begets good-sized jewel-box-like blooms with bright yellow petal-like inner sepals, red spurs and tiny brownish petals. Effulgent outfacing flowers dance above lean, tall leafless stems plus a dashing polished mound of reddish brown dappled younger leaves offset by cordate dark green mature ones. Considered one of the best ground covers for shady areas, the slow-spreading dense evergreen clump ensures sprightly floral accents, exceptional vigor and drought tolerance once established.

Blooms April-May

Size: 9"–15" high x 12"–18" wide; hardy to zone 4.

Epimedium pinnatum ssp. colchicum (P-1834)
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Epimedium x rubrum  full sun  partial shade
Epimedium x rubrum

So prolific are the crimson and white flowers on this Epimedium that the wiry stems are obscured by the origami-looking blossoms. It’s best served by planting in shade, fancying either the woodland or rock garden.

Blooms February–March.

Size: 9" high x 12" wide; hardy to zone 5.

Epimedium x rubrum (P-0062)
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Epimedium stellulatum ‘Wudang Star’  full sun  partial shade  shade lover
Epimedium stellulatum Wudang Star

Aptly named ‘Wudang Star’ unfurls a floral delicacy of exquisite pure white blossoms that resemble 4-pointed stars in loosely arranged sprays. Highlighted by prominent yellow stamens, the abundant larger than average blooms are elevated on tall lean stems above a lustrous spiny green foundation, distinctive for its arrowhead- shaped leaves and newly emerging growth with bronzy pink margins. Let this rare Chinese gem brighten your garden’s shady nooks and you’ll see why acclaimed plantsman Roy Lancaster introduced it.

Blooms March–April.

Size: 18" high x 15"–18" wide; hardy to zone 4.


Epimedium stellulatum ‘Wudang Star’ (P-1800)
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Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’  partial shade  shade lover  new plant

Though this Epimedium grandiflorum and Epimedium pinnatum ssp. colchicum hybrid was selected well over 150 years ago, it still upholds an impeccable long-standing reputation as the go-to Epimedium for difficult shady garden recesses. The suave, closely hewn ground covering clump is described by trim bright red flower stalks plus sprightly pale yellow ornate blossoms above leathery heart-shaped green leaves, donning artful wine-hued etchings in spring and autumn maroon blotching. Fast growing, energetic and swarthy, ‘Sulphureum’ mingles well with early blooming Pulmonarias or Brunneras, while conquering a wide range of soil.

Blooms March–April

Size: 12"–16" high x 12"–18" wide; hardy to zone 5.

Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’ (P-0063)
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Epimedium x warleyense  full sun  partial shade

We bet you’ll take your hats off to this ‘Bishop’s Hat’. Its intriguing flowers have petals of yellow, sepals of coppery orange, anthers of green, and spurs adorned with red streaks. The light green spring foliage is spiny-toothed and has a reddish margin. We plant it alongside our shaded steps and benches amid Helleborus ‘Ivory Prince’, so that we can enjoy the detail and contrasting colors.

Blooms April–May.

Size: 12" high x 12" wide; hardy to zone 5.

Epimedium x warleyense (P-0291)
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Epimedium x warleyense ‘Ellen Willmott’  full sun  partial shade  shade lover

Lauded as one of the most colorful warleyense species, this toasty hued hybrid between E. alpinum and E. pinnatum ssp. colchicum occurred in the Warley Place garden of Britain’s infamous curmudgeon plantswoman, Miss Willmott. A central yellow cup and subtle salmon overtones enrich the burnt reddish orange flowers, which are poised on 15 in. narrow stems. Below the wondrous blooms, a fast growing mostly evergreen foundation of ample-sized foliage hosts young plum-imbued leaves maturing to green, then ending the season brinled with bronze and burgundy tones.

Blooms April-May

Size: 16" high x 16"–18" wide; hardy to zone 5.

Epimedium x warleyense ‘Ellen Willmott’ (P-1835)
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Epimedium x warleyense ‘Orange Queen’  full sun  partial shade  shade lover

We bet you’ll take your hats off to this fabulous ‘Bishop’s Hat’, an Ernest Pagels Epimedium alpinum and Epimedium pinnatum ssp. colchicum cross. Its intriguing flowers are defined by soft coppery tangerine-colored petals, greenish anthers and spurs painted with red streaks. The light green spring foliage is spiny toothed and warmed by reddish margins.

We place it alongside our shaded steps and benches amid Helleborus ‘Ivory Prince’, so that we can enjoy the detail and contrasting colors.

Blooms March–April.

Size: 16" high x 16"–18" wide; hardy to zone 5.

Epimedium x warleyense ‘Orange Queen’ (P-1785)
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Epimedium x youngianum ‘Niveum’  full sun  partial shade
Epimedium x youngianum Niveum

Illuminated by a sprightly, overhead display of starry, pure white flowers, the emerging henna-hued leaves grow into a compact mass that stays tidy all season. Smaller sized, handsome pointed leaflets have toothed margins and impart scarlet and crimson colors for a lambent fall finale.

Blooms April–May.

Size: 8"–10" high x 12" wide; hardy to zone 5.

Epimedium x youngianum ‘Niveum’ (P-0571)
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Epimedium x youngianum ‘Roseum’  full sun  partial shade

Documented in a 1863 Parisian herbarium, this ladylike Epimedium premiers fleurs d’un rose clair. Sprays of soft lilac-pink, narcissus-like flowers dangle from stiff, needle-thin reddish stems. Fashioning an attractive bushy mound, the pointed ovate leaflets first emerge with warm auburn hues and green-up as spring progresses.

Blooms April – May.

Size: 8" high x 15" wide; hardy to zone 5.

Epimedium x youngianum ‘Roseum’ (P-1448)
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