Plant Focus: Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’

Following on from last month’s look at Euonymus alatus, this month I want to share another of my favourites with you. Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ is an attractive, really useful low growing, spring flowering herbaceous perennial.

Whilst it dies back in the winter, it provides a really long season of interest in terms of its foliage and flowers.  Blue forget-me-not like flowers appear from April to early June, followed by heart shaped variegated leaves, which form a neat mound of ground cover into autumn.

Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ - Spring flowersBrunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ - Spring flowersBrunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ - Summer foliageBrunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ - Spring flowers

Description:

  • Low growing, spring flowing herbaceous perennial
  • Forget-me-not like blue flowers begin in April and continue until early June
  • Flowers are followed by large, heart shaped variegated leaves throughout the summer and into autumn

Why I like it:

  • Long season of interest
  • Neat, interesting ground cover throughout the summer and into autumn
  • Shade tolerant
  • Low maintenance (see tips below)

Where to use it

  • Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ is shade tolerant and in my experience much happier in dappled shade than full sun.
  • The flowers look great alongside other Spring flowering perennials such as Primroses, Cowslips, Candytuft, Viburnum plicatum, Geranium phaeum, and Dicentra spectabilis (now sadly renamed Lamprocapnos spectabilis), as well as the unfurling fronds of lacy ferns and maybe the odd Hosta.
  • In Summer and early Autumn, the silver foliage works really well with the bronze leaves of Heuchera, or to lighten the mood amongst the stodgy dark green of Viburnum tinus and other shrubs.  It also looks good with golden foliage – that of Philadelphus coronarius ‘Aureus’ for example.

Planting & plant care tips:

  • It does prefer a good quality soil, so add plenty of organic matter to the soil prior to planting
  • As mentioned above, it prefers dappled shade. If planted in sun, it will benefit from watering in very dry weather.
  • Trim over the plant after flowering and remove the old flowering stems – the plant will then stay a fresh, neat mound all summer. Then simply tidy up the dead leaves in late autumn /winter. It’s as simple as that.

 

Image credits: Patrick Standish, ALDA, peganum

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