In March the combination of Epimedium rubrum foliage and flowering Narcissus ‘Jetfire’ is one of the most striking features in my Amsterdam trial garden. The epimedium is dormant but its “dead” foliage takes on a dramatic burgundy red colour that becomes more intense as winter wanes. We are normally told to cut the old foliage of Epimedium off before it starts to flower in late winter, but with this species the dramatic foliage colour will be lost. Its red flowers are nice but far less impressive — the choice is yours to make.
Narcissus ‘Jetfire’ is deservedly popular and is one of the earliest daffodils to flower in late winter. Here I have combined it with the very similar Narcissus pseudonarcissus subsp. obvallaris commonly called the Tenby daffodil. In a very cold winter it flowers earlier than Jetfire, but usually they flower together. It does not have the orange trumpet and is a slightly fresher lemon yellow colour.
For summer interest this small border contains ferns, Actea, Thalictrum and Geraniums surrounded by lots of the fresh green foliage of the epimediums. Together these plants create a low restful carpet surrounded by other more dramatic and taller-growing borders, but for more than a month at the end of winter it is the star.