Epimedium warleyense

In our garden, Epimedium x warleyense is the first of the genus to flower and it never fails to delight. The sprays of unusual coppery orange coloured flowers, held high on thin wiry stems, seem almost to hover above ground. The effect is delicate, yet this clump forming plant is tough and a very efficient suppressor of weeds. Almost simultaneously the pretty, heart shaped leaves emerge; and they remain looking good well into autumn and through winter until it is time to prune them to the ground the following February, well before the cycle starts all over again. If you

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Prunus incisa ‘Kojo-no-mai’ AGM

This is undoubtedly a well known and popular cherry, and deservedly so; but somehow I overlooked it until a few years ago when, right time, right place, I found I had a gap for a spring flowering shrub and it fitted the bill perfectly. Compact, slow growing and twiggy in an architectural sort of way, in early spring it is covered in masses of dainty, white (flushed pink) flowers giving the whole plant an almost ethereal quality. This belies its resilience (very hardy) and ease of cultivation. It’s known as the Fuji cherry and how beautiful it must look growing

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Cardamine quinquefolia

This rhizomatous perennial (closely related to our own native cuckooflower) always takes me by surprise when its fresh bright foliage appears in February. The attractive leaves are five lobed and toothed, and they set off to perfection the mass of pinky purple flowers which can appear at any time during March. These are always a hugely welcome sight as most other perennials are still well below ground and the garden is a little low on colour at this time of the year. It grows happily in part or full shade, damp or dry, and is best in an informal, wild

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