Gardens Illustrated Magazine

Cardamines are a much underused addition to the spring garden, and Cardamine pentaphyll­os with clusters of soft-lilac flowers is the most choice



Cardamines are a great addition to the spring garden and much underused.

This is definitely the most choice with its nodding clusters of soft lilac flowers in April. Some cardamines can be invasive, but this one is well behaved, and has only slowly bulked up for me. I propagated it by division and have repeat planted it in my new woodland beds. Other good cardamines I suggest growing are

C. enneaphyll­os, which has soft yellow flowers in February, C. waldsteini­i with pure-white flowers, and the deep-purple flowered C. glandulige­ra. AGM.

Height 40cm.

Origin Western and central Europe. Conditions Good woodland soil; dappled shade.

Hardiness RHS H5.

Season of interest April to May.


This epimedium was bred by the epimedium hybridiser Darrell Probst in 2004. I grow more than 100 different epimediums in Hunting Brook and this stands out as one of the best. After I cut back the old foliage in January new arrow-shaped leaves grow, which are mottled with bronze but these do not hide the flowers as with some epimediums. It has white flowers with maroon tips on each flower in spring and then sporadical­ly flowers through the summer and autumn. This epimedium has bulked up well for me and it’s one I highly recommend growing. AGM.

Height 35cm.

Origin Garden (species China). Conditions Well-drained soil; dappled but not deep shade.

Hardiness RHS H6, USDA 5a-9b. Season of interest Spring to summer.


I first saw this Corydalis in one of the best nurseries in the world, Far Reaches Nursery in the Pacific Northwest of the USA, but I was delighted to find it for sale at the Great Dixter Plant Fair a couple of years ago. This unusually large corydalis is slightly similar to Corydalis temulifoli­a ‘Chocolate Stars’ but is much more beautiful. The new foliage emerges in early spring with a dark grey-green colour to it, which is followed by bright-yellow flowers through spring and summer. This corydalis is easily propagated by division in spring or autumn.

Height 50cm.

Origin China.

Conditions Good woodland soil; dappled shade.

Hardiness RHS H6.

Season of interest Spring to autumn.

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