Last Saturday’s meeting had a good turn-out, considering the glorious weather was tempting us all to stay at home and footle about in the garden.
Julian Sutton from Desirable Plants began his talk on Herbaceous Berberidaceae (non-woody members of the Berberis family) with a round-up of this ancient plant family’s characteristics, which typically include pinnate leaves and fleshy, berry-like fruits. He highlighted those grown primarily for their eye-catching, pigment-splashed foliage, such as Podophyllum delavayi, Podophyllum ‘Spotty Dotty’ and Epimedium ‘Lilac Cascade’ (whose leaf edges are hazed red/purple), and those whose flowers are the main attraction, such as the spurless, dainty white bell-flowered Epimedium diphyllum and the slightly temperamental Jeffersonia dubia ‘Alba’ with its superb, saucer-shaped, papery white blooms.
The global distribution of Epimedium species appeared hard to comprehend at first glance; many types originate from Eastern Asia and North East America, with thousands of miles between them. Julian explained that the spread from the Far East probably took place via the (intermittent) land bridge between Russia and Alaska, resulting in colonisation throughout Eastern Asia and North America, but subsequent climate changes may have eliminated these plants, which generally enjoy wet summers and dryish winters, from parts of China and Western America.
With lots of (appropriately enough) desirable plants for sale on both Julian’s and Beryl’s stalls, members took home some unusual finds for their spring gardens.