The $150 Epimedium
Last week Plant Delights' fall sale began, so if you are a cash-flush Epimedium enthusiast, hurry: their $150 Epimedium is now $120.
Epimediums are the latest cult plants, with the prices to prove it. At Plant Delights, most range from $24 to $35, and since Epimedium has yet to make it to Home Depot, you can expect to pay a lot no matter where you purchase them. They are sturdy plants and are great for dry shade, but they are not particularly showy and are unlikely to attract the attention of botanical neophytes.
Obviously "The Giant," Plant Delights' $150 specimen, is a collector's plant. It's a perennial for the gardener who has everything, including a very healthy bank account. Although I personally do not find "The Giant" tempting, I can understand why somebody might. It's what happens when you've been gardening for a while. Rudbeckia "Goldstrum" and Phlox "David" just aren't a challenge anymore. They come back year after year no matter what you do to them. They're pretty, but all your neighbors have them. What's the fun of that?
I have a low-rent version of the $150 Epimedium: my $25 Ruscus aculeatus, commonly known as Butcher's Broom. I stumbled across it at the State Farmer's Market in Raleigh and just had to have it. Never mind that it was $25 for a 3 inch pot, or that its growth rate was glacial. It was adorable. A bit like a minature pyracantha, it has prickly evergreen leaves that aren't really leaves at all (the technical term is cladodes) and every fall it is covered in big red berries. I am a sucker for any plant with berries, and this one was decidedly different. So I bought it.
Five years later, here it is. No big deal, right? The berry extravaganza has yet to materialize, and waiting for it to grow is like watching paint dry. To add insult to injury, no one has asked me what that fascinating plant is - they are too busy complimenting its mundane but traffic-stopping neighbor, my pyracantha "Mohave" ($10 at the Farmer's Market, thank you very much).
It doesn't end there. My garden includes a number of unusual duds, among them a cold and heat tolerant Fuchsia (there's a reason Fuchsia is usually planted in hanging baskets - it looks better that way), a weedly Scutellaria, and three weak, spindly white Chelone glabra that just sit there doing nothing while their more common pink sisters, "Hot Lips," put them to shame.
The moral of the story? There is none. I love plants, and I can't stop trying new ones. Just yesterday, I left the North Carolina Botanical Gardens with two Gentiana catesbaei (Elliot's Gentian) in tow. Welcome to the family. Now let's see what you can do.
I like colorful plants, and for that reason epimediums leave me uninspired. Just too subtle. Sure Rudbeckia and Echinacea are common, but they are colorful and dependable. To me they are like the bread and wine of the Midwestern garden. Now, you shouldn't have to live on bread and wine alone, and I like having uncommon plants that surprise and puzzle the neighbors. But there are plenty of colorful uncommon plants.
10/24/2012 01:48:59 am
There are worse things than living on bread and wine alone! It's interesting that you had a similar experience with Chelone glabra, despite our different climates. I am hoping mine will be stronger next season, but like you, I will not plant new ones if they don't make it.
10/24/2012 06:35:17 am
I thought the 150 dollar plant was kind of ugly. Loved your pyracantha, though. By the way, did you know that D. H. Lawrence wrote a poem called "Bavarian Gentians"? (Also wrote a story called "Odor of Chrysanthemums"--perhaps the time is right for the thesis on Lawrence and gardening).
10/24/2012 08:49:56 am
I favor the untrained, natural pyracantha, as you see. It's the path of least resistance, plus I like the way it looks.
10/25/2012 01:41:33 pm
$120 for an epimedium? I'll pass. I have a large chunk of them growing rampant under my river birch. Lazy S's Farm Nursery sells them for about $110 cheaper. I like unusual plants, too. But I prefer them cheap and unusual. :)
10/26/2012 02:09:25 am
Me too! Lazy S Farm Nursery is one of my favorite places to window shop. Great selection of plants, and since they are in Virginia and in red clay country, I would imagine what they grow would do well in both of our gardens.
10/27/2012 03:46:25 am
Even if I liked and could afford a $150 plant, I would never buy one. What if it died? I'd be very annoyed.
I love your sense of humour. I have one "low rent" Epimedium, but would love more (even though I agree that they are not terribly showy). I can't imagine paying $150 for one however! Yikes that's pricy! Your $10 pyracantha "Mohave" is certainly a show stopper. Who cares if it is common! I don't have any Gentians at the moment, but have often admired their flowers in other gardens. I hope your Gentian performs well.
10/29/2012 09:04:39 am
Thanks so much. I finally got around to planting the Gentians yesterday. With any luck, they will live to talk about it and I'll be oohing and aahing over them next fall. If not, they'll be added to my list of unusual duds.
8/20/2013 03:19:27 am
I have one Epimedium -- did NOT pay $150 for it! I think maybe $5 at a sale of our local perennial plant society!! LOL :)
8/20/2013 06:12:20 am
My pyracantha grew fast! It started off in a gallon pot about 6 years ago, and now it's a monster. I don't train it, as you see. It just does its thing. The bees love the flowers in the spring (which smell pretty bad, by the way), and the birds wait until February to start gobbling up the berries. But they do eat them, definitely. So do the squirrels, but there are so many that it's not a problem. I haven't noticed seedlings, but that may be because I just haven't properly idenitified them. You'd think there would be, with all those berries.
1/28/2021 07:38:43 pm
Wow! Excellent. When I'm reading the whole content I feel so smart. Very informative article that helps me a lot. I will share this to my friends and classmates. Wait. Just sharing this website (www.horses-haarlem-oil.com), I read also about the benefits of their products. By the way, I am so happy to read your content here. I will share this link/website of you to my fellows. Thank you and God bless! Have a great day, ahead!
Your comment will be posted after it is approved.
Leave a Reply.
The Galloping Horse Gardener is a native New Yorker who packed it in in 2005 to live under the radar in Cary, North Carolina. In 2014, she removed to a new secure location somewhere in Raleigh.
Follow the Blog
Problems signing up? Send me an email and let me know.