Spring is Epimedium's time to shine. Or is it?
They are funny little things - tiny blooms appear in late April/early May here in zone 5 and only attract attention because of the sheer number of them. You must get right down on the ground at their level to appreciate the intricate beauty of the blooms or you'll miss it, due to their downward facing habit.
But once the blooming's over, it's then that Epimediums come into their own. The foliage is interesting in its shape - somewhat like hearts - and the prickly edging. Veining is prominent in some varieties, and new growth can exhibit wonderful red coloring.
They are a groundcover, with the foliage topping out at somewhere around six inches. Also known as Barrenwort, Epimedium grows best in shade and is hardy in zones 4-8. Other names are Fairy Wings, Bishop's Mitre, and Bishop's Hat. The foliage turns a nice reddish shade again in the fall.