Friday, March 1, 2013

Lungworts For Durability

We had some light snow today but nothing overwhelming.  It was a relatively quiet day at the Horticulture Center with Pat working on his giant obelisk project, Dr. Gredler painting cucumber supports (orange) and Vern continuing work on our newly sanded benches.  He's putting a nice preservative oil/stain and the benches are all looking brand new.  Many looked rough out in the gardens next year but we're happy to restore them to their original grandeur.  Pat C. was in the office preparing more plant sale labels for processing next week and I worked on lots of small but vital projects.  

My recent winter blogs have included lots of photos of plants and today is no exception.  I've been considering many of my "favorites" and am trying to show a wide range of ornamental and durable woody plants, perennials and annuals.  With not much to photograph out in the gardens quite yet, I'll rely on past photography and try to initiate some excitement for the looming growing season!  

Today I'm featuring lungworts (Pulmonaria sp.).  The top photo shows the variety 'Diana Clare' and the leaf shot above is from the variety 'Majeste'.  Also called Bethlehem sage, Jerusalem cowslip, spotted dog and many other common names, this tough perennial is native to Europe and Western Asia.  In short, lungworts are great in the partly shaded or full shade garden for the combination of spring flowers (showy but quick in mid to late April) and ornamental foliage.  Flowers are typically pink, blue or more commonly, opening pink and transitioning to blue.  However, there are selections that are a deep raspberry color or even white.  The rough, "sand papery" leaves are durable and rarely affected by insects, diseases or nibbling deer.  Leaf coloration will transition from spring to summer with those having white or silver becoming more intense.  We have many Pulmonaria varieties in some very tough soils in shadier locations and they are durable, adaptable and drought tolerant.  The dry spell last summer was tough on those we couldn't water frequently but I can't ever recall saying, "Wow, that lungwort is dead."  They are tough.  I recommend selecting them for the foliage (which comes out in rosette clusters).  As a clumper, this perennial will ultimately widen out but        is a nice compact mass that rarely needs division (accomplished in spring).  Lungworts look nice paired with hostas, hellebores, ferns, bleeding hearts, Jacob's ladder, coral bells and other perennials for the partly shaded border.  Don't put them in too much sun or the leaves get scorched along the edges and they look ragged and "crispy".  Most varieties are in the 10"-15" range for height with spreads from 12" to 24".

'Mrs. Moon'
'Mrs. Moon'
'Silver Bouquet'
'Gaelic Spring'
'Silver Shimmers'
'Raspberry Splash'
'Majeste' grouping
'Victorian Brooch' in bloom
'Victorian Brooch'
'Cotton Cool' (spring)
'Cotton Cool' (summer)
'Bubble Gum'
'Trevi Fountain'


Larry said...

Hi Mark. This is a marvelous collection of pulmonaria
I will have to take my iPad with me the next time I look for pulmonaria at a nursery and refer to this collection of pictures. Thank you for sharing. It is truly impressive. Larry

Mark Dwyer, Director of Horticulture, Rotary Botanical Gardens said...

My pleasure Larry. That's just the proverbial "tip of the iceberg"! Have fun!