Much of the early interest in the garden comes from bulbs or shrubs, but there are a few perennials that make an early appearance. Best known are hellebores which come in a range of colours – white, pink, deep red, cream, yellow and green. With ypsilandras, there is just one choice – to paraphrase the car manufacturer Henry Ford, you can have any colour as long as it is white.

Ypsilandras are little-known perennials from woodland habitats in the Far East that flower very early in the year in our gardens. Although there are five species listed by Wikipaedia, only two appear to be in cultivation, ypsilandra thibetica and ypsilandra cavaleriei. It is barely mid March and both are in flower in my garden.

Although you may have to search to find a supplier for either of them, ypsilandra thibetica is the one more commonly available.

Ypsilandra thibetica - 2013

Here is a close-up of the flowers.


Ypsilandra cavaleriei is much harder to track down, with only four suppliers are listed in Plant Finder last time I checked.

Ypsilandra cavaleriei - 2014

And in close-up again.

Ypsilandra cavaleriei (close-up) - 2014

As you can see, the habit is the same but the flowers are slightly different. The plant eventually gets about eighteen inches across but only a few inches high. The flowers open white, often partially hidden under the evergreen leaves, but are soon displayed above the foliage and take on pink shadings as they age. Although these are both woodlanders, they prefer not to be too damp. As they grow on wooded hillsides in the wild, any excess water will soon drain away. So a shady spot on the dry side rather than being waterlogged will suit them best in the garden. Slugs may be a problem in wet springs, but I have not had a problem with these pests so far.

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