epimedium rare

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Mani the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, and here to bring you the latest news from our garden. You may remember me from such posts as “The Project”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. Just lying on the patio, the way I do a lot. The guy I live with sometimes talks about cleaning the patio rug. It’s a pretty comfortable rug.

When we went on our evening walk, yesterday, the guy I live with set the sprinkler in the middle of the back yard, so the cow-pen daisies could get a little water. I guess you can see that they did.This truly did used to be a lawn. A green one, that was mowed by a regular lawn mower. That was a long time ago.  The guy I live with said that both Slipper and Chess, purebred border collies who lived here before me, enjoyed the green lawn, but he always wanted a buffalo grass lawn instead. Back before “the turn of the century”, which sounds strange to me, there was a ‘609’ buffalo grass lawn, but the grass turned out not to be winter-hardy, and ninety-nine percent of it died in the winter of 1999 or thereabouts. So then the green lawn was installed.

But the green lawn had a problem, because there was one area where it got tinkled on kind of a lot. Chess, whom some of you may remember, liked to do that. So there was this green lawn, with a huge brown area right in the middle. It was turned into what you see in the picture above. In a way, then, all these cow-pen daisies are in a central bed which was started by Chess.

Today was a pretty interesting day. The sun came out for a while. Then it was dark again. For a while we thought it was going to rain. It got really windy.

Then it rained. The guy I live with got all excited, or at least somewhat excited, for a minute, until the rain stopped. “Oh well”, he said, and we went about doing whatever it was we were doing.

Yesterday, a shipment of epimediums arrived in the mail. Some were fairly rare ones. But they were on sale, so, well, you know. I’d never heard of epimediums before, but the guy I live with said there were a few in the shade garden on the north side of the house, and that there was an empty space by the birch, in the back yard, where these epimediums were going to go. I knew there was an empty space there and wondered about it from time to time. Not a lot, but every now and then. The way you do. When you see an empty space, don’t you wonder about it, too?

There is even a book all about epimediums.Epimediums are one of the “in” genera, like snowdrops and hellebores, and gardeners who are interested in them are said to be ultra-sophisticated, which of course is why the guy I live with had to order more. Though I suspect that epimediums are no longer as “in” as they were a decade or so ago, and the guy I live with was just catching up, which is pretty much the way things go around here.

The epimediums came from Edelweiss Perennials and when he removed one from its pot, he said that this was how a root ball (not really a ball but that’s what we say) should look; it looked very excellent. These plants could be planted right in the ground without anything being done to the roots, though as you can see they were soaked in a dish pan first. (The guy I live with says every gardener should have some dish pans.)

So holes were dug. The plants were set into the holes, and then watered. It was just regular dirt, but the water, from the watering can, disappeared immediately. It was amazing; I watched this very closely, and couldn’t believe my eyes. The water was poured in, and disappeared. In just regular dirt. Each plant got a whole gallon of water from the watering can.

Once they’re established, which can take a couple of years, here, epimediums will tolerate a considerable amount of “dryness at the root”, as Graham Stuart Thomas used to say. There are really very few plants that will grow in the “dry shade” garden writers talk about all the time, but epimediums are one. I mean at least if they get watered about once a week, so not really dry, but sometimes dry. Or at least not moist all the time.

Here I am, watching over the new epimediums. If it looks like I’m lying on a path, that’s because I am. Slipper created this path, a long time ago, because he was always looking for shortcuts.  I really like watching the gardening process as closely as possible. I might learn something, so I can help in the garden later on.

The bit of green rabbit wire in the lower left is because of the cyclamen which were planted there a little while ago, and in fact, it’s not to prevent me from stepping on them, but to remind the guy I live with that cyclamen were planted. They’re Cyclamen hederifolium and a couple are flowering now. 

Later, there will be leaves, which remain all winter long, and the rabbit wire can be removed.

The guy I live with said he’s ready for cooler weather now, because this summer has been so gloomy and depressing. He said that he always thought August was a melancholy time of the year because, first of all, when he was little, having to go back to school was looming on the horizon, and then when he didn’t have to do that any more, it was the idea that somehow he didn’t do all the “summery” things he should have done, like go to the beach or the swimming pool, or something else he never really did do.  The end of summer was so sad. But now, the weather seems to have changed, and summer is no longer summer but just a season of darkness and endless thunderstorms featuring large hail, to be avoided (hopefully) and endured, not to be enjoyed. I think I agree.

So the cyclamen, flowering, represented the beginning of cooler, and sunnier, weather. I would like that, for sure. We purebred border collies do not care for thunderstorms or hot weather.

Well, I might have gone on more than I needed to. If you think I go on, you should be around the guy I live with, who pretty much never stops talking. He said once that eventually he’ll stop talking, and just make gestures, but I doubt it. 

Until next time, then.




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11 Responses to epimedium rare

  1. Barb K says:

    Mani your eyes are so soulful and large, and then I just want to beep your nose. That would be undignified of course. I like the “in” plants too except I guess I don’t have very many epimediums. Our summers are opposite but just as depressing these days. Hot and hotter, and then in August all the valleys fill with smoke. I took out all my grass but what remains is Bermuda grass, with roots that can go down 6 feet. I will never be rid of it. Is Buffalo grass more mannerly? It seems that the grasses that don’t need much water can present other problems.

    • paridevita says:

      Buffalo grass is much more mannerly, since it expands by runners along the surface. It does need water, here, but not as much as green-lawn grasses. Nowhere near as much. The lawn in the “way back” was mowed once this summer, and then watered, to get it going again. Goes dormant in winter. (So does bluegrass, here.) I would dislike hot summers, but the guy I live with says the hotter the temperature, the less likely it is for us to get bad storms, which seem to be increasingly common around here. I wouldn’t mind a beep on the nose.

  2. Deborah says:

    It’s not a root ball, it’s a square root. Or a root, squared. Something mathematic. Or something.

    I read that the solar eclipse is likely to cause storms in the Rockies, in Colorado, in Denver. Be prepared. And maybe write about it. (I feel like I should be more excited by the eclipse, but I’m mostly just tired of the brouhaha. The Louisville tv station we watch has been calling it “Kentucky’s darkest day” — every night for the last month or so.)

    • paridevita says:

      A root square, we like that. The idea that the eclipse will cause storms in the Rockies is kind of like saying having no eclipse will cause storms. We’ve had storms almost every single day here for months. The guy I live with said he might take pictures of circles on the ground. I didn’t understand that, at all.

  3. mjkeane says:

    Hi Mani. I’m pleased to hear that you pay close attention to your gardens. Plants love to surprise us with their changing habits and we ought to appreciate their efforts.
    My favorite change in epimediums is the leaf color in autumm. Watch for this in your new plants. I think you’ll like it too. Epimediums are tough plants yet have a very delicate look which is a fascinating trait. If you want some interesting reading this winter, try The Dry Garden by Beth Chatto. Maybe you’ve already read it.

    • paridevita says:

      Indeed, the guy I live with has read The Dry Garden many times. A lot of the plants mentioned do very well here, but with some irrigation. I guess I’ll get to see the epimediums turn color in the autumn, though they might be outdone by the Mahonia repens which grows close to them.

      • mjkeane says:

        Lucky you to have the opportunity to enjoy both the epimedium and mahonia together this Fall. It’ll be fun to study each carefully and examine how their changing leaf color cycle differs. And to see if and how they complement each other. Some plants are beautiful companions at specific times of the year.

      • paridevita says:

        I agree, though the mahonia has seeded itself into a number of places where I might like to lie, observing this and that. On the other hand, snakes like to hide under the mahonias, and they’re fun to chase.

  4. I’ve made a note of that nursery and will have a look at their offerings as soon as I have caught up here.

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