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...

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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,...

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Abutilon vitifolium ‘Veronica Tennant’

Thanks are due to Laura who gave me this beautiful shrub as a small cutting a few years ago. I was already growing A x suntense which has stunning deep bluey purple flowers, but its season is fleeting, whereas ‘Veronica Tennant’ is in bloom from late spring until well into the summer. This is a strong growing, upright shrub, much hardier than people might think (quite untouched by the recent -2’ here). The dainty saucer shaped flowers are a good eight centimetres across and bees love them! Abutilon must have full sun, good drainage and a sheltered spot and...

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Viola labradorica: Syn Viola riviniana – Purpurea Group

Writing these twice monthly pieces, I am always learning something new, and this time I had to look up the exact whereabouts of Labrador. So now I know, and furthermore I understand why this little plant is so resilient, as it also native to Greenland. For me it stands out from other violas on account of its unusual heart shaped, purple flushed foliage which complement the flowers so perfectly. It is an undemanding plant and will seed itself about gently; a little too gently for me, as I could do with a few more, if only to dig up...

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