Monday, February 18, 2013

Brunneras for Fun (and Function)!

With some recent winter blogs, I've been including some of my favorite perennials and false-forget-me-nots (Brunnera macrophylla) certainly fall in to my "favorites list"!  Brunneras are native to Eurasia but have long been cultivated in the garden for durable foliage in part shade/full shade.  These hardy perennials get their name because of the profusion of "forget-me-not like" blooms in spring.  Brunneras, while adaptable to a wide range of soils, do prefer, moist, rich soils that are well-drained.  The heart-shaped leaves are rarely bothered by insects or disease and are not bothered by deer because of their sandpaper like texture.  Brunneras are also drought tolerant once established and do benefit from a moisture-conserving mulch.  I've been accumulating and observing many varieties here at the gardens and I'm most impressed with the varieties with variegated or silver-patterned foliage.  There are some new varieties coming out but that proverbial "bar has been raised" by 'Jack Frost' seen here above and directly below.  While the blooms are always welcome in early May, those varieties with colorful foliage extend interest until hard frost and offer some illumination and "pop" in the shaded border because of the silvering or variegation.  Brunneras in full sun will get crispy leaves by mid-summer but will grow.  The foliage does benefit from some degree of shading however.  We position most of ours in dappled sun or late afternoon sun for maximum foliage color and appeal.  This low-maintenance perennial leaves little to be desired and there are many varieties available at your local nursery.  While I still like the classic green-leaf species and the earlier varieties with silver spotting (see the classic 'Langtrees' further below), why not go with the most "foliage punch" that you can and consider the potential for your Brunnera selection to be combined with hostas, ferns, sedges and other woodland type perennials.  Other varieties below have their identification under the image.

We had a productive day out in the gardens and in the Horticulture Center.  Urban, Jim D. and Larry were out cutting back and removing some overgrown woody plants in the gardens and Bill O. came in later to help Larry continue with garden work.  Dr. Gredler and Rose continued painting obelisks and Pat also painted but worked on a system for attaching lights to the "tower of power" for next  year.  Dave and Jim worked on more carpentry projects while Vern continued his bench sealing project.  Ron Y., Mary W. and Gene continued with their progress on sanding benches and we think we're over 50% done with the sanding.  Gary came in to do some label research and we also saw Jumbo Jim, Karen and Stan K. who were meeting to discuss the Japanese garden.  I kept busy with dozens of ongoing projects and continue to juggle duties based on deadlines and priority status.

Brunnera 'Jack Frost'
Brunnera 'Jack Frost' in bloom
Brunnera 'Jack Frost' (all photos above)
Brunnera 'Looking Glass'
Brunnera 'Looking Glass'
Brunnera 'Looking Glass'
Brunnera 'Looking Glass'
Brunnera 'King's Ransom'
Brunnera 'King's Ransom'
Brunnera 'King's Ransom'
Brunnera 'Diane's Gold'
Brunnera 'Diane's Gold'
Brunnera 'Variegata'
Brunnera 'Variegata'
Brunnera 'Silver Wings'
Brunnera 'Dawson's White'
Brunnera 'Hadspen Cream'
Brunnera 'Langtrees'

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