Last June I attended the Town Library Plant and Bake Sale. It's a community event; contributors donate thinnings from their own gardens or flats of seedlings from their greenhouses.
One plant I chose was an epimedium.
I planted it at the base of a young oak tree surrounded by ferns, and by July it looked three times it's original size and seemed quite happy:
In Autumn, it's leaves took on a semi-coppery sheen,
and when the "last" snow melted (quite recently, and possibly not the last at all), the remaining leaves looked like this:
As my world begins to green up, I've been keeping a close eye on the many, many places where I planted perennials last year, hoping for signs that the plants wintered well and will be back and thriving this year.
Last week, I was thrilled to find a glimpse of green at the base of that oak tree. A single stalk, elegantly arched over a cluster of deep pink buds:
And then another:
Just a few days later, there were more green stalks, unfurling, and many buds:
And now the first flower has opened!
I had to almost stand on my head for that picture, but I wanted you to get a sense of how threadlike these stems are, and how tiny the flowers. (In case it's not clear, those pink logs to the left are my fingertips.)
When I bought this plant, it was past flowering, so these flowers are a complete and wonderful surprise.
I have an illustrated list of many epimedium varieties, kindly given to me at a nursery last year. At some point, I will locate that list - probably when I am looking for a spool of thread or a screwdriver or a phone number - and then perhaps I can identify the plant with some certainty. Meanwhile, tentative identification: Epimedium alpinum 'Rubrum.'
Whatever it's botanical name, it's an unlikely-looking gem of a plant to appear and bloom at this changeable time of year. I'm thrilled to bits that it's back!
What happy returns have you found in your gardens this year?