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Brunnera macrophylla 

*Unusual shade loving groundcover

AKA Siberian Bugloss, Great Forget Me Not, Anchusa myosotidifolia

 

Why should I grow it?

Brunnera is a really nice little plant, grown mainly for its unusual white coloured leaves it also has Forget Me Not like flowers.  It does loose the leaves in winter but they emerge in Spring nice and fresh and this plant is a colourful asset to any shady border

 

This photo shows a Brunnera planted with a Forget Me Not.  It shows just how similar the flowers are of these closely related plants

A little bit of history……

Brunnera macrophylla is a deciduous perennial, native to the woodlands of Eastern Europe specifically the Caucuses. Introduced to the UK in 1713, is named after the Swiss botanist Samuel Brunner and macrophylla simply means large or long leaved.   It is a member of the Borage family and related to Forget Me Not which is not surprising as the flowers are very similar, Pulmonaria, Comfrey and Echium too.

 

What should I plant it with?

As it is a native of woodlands it is ideal for growing in shade. It can be grown in borders, along paths, on slopes and as underplanting. It is an informal looking plant so looks good in a woodland, a natural garden and by ponds. It is a fab low maintenance plant and good for an awkward shady spot.

Plant with other shade loving plants such as Hosta, Pulmonaria, Bergenia, Lamium maculatum and ferns. It makes a lovely accompaniment to Spring bulbs such as tulips, bluebells or hyacinth.  For a good contrast to its heart shaped white leaves try with the strap like black grass Ophiopogon.

 

 

 

 

Anything else?

Size   Its not large, ultimate height less than 30cm x ultimate spread less than 50cm in 2 – 5 years, it spreads by underground creeping rhizomes. It is easily kept under control, growing at an average rate. 

Position in a shady spot, it likes dappled and partial shade and can face north west or east, its hardy and will withstand to – 15 so ok in the UK. It will not survive in sunny hot areas of the garden.

Soil:  Most normal garden soil if it is moist but well drained.  Damp soil is tolerated but not very wet or very dry!

Foliage: leaves are unusual as it is dense lush white and green, in a heart shape.

Flowers: Vivid blue Forget Me Not like flowers in April and May

Season of interest: Lovely foliage most of the year and Spring flowers

Brunnera looks great in an informal woodland setting

Planting and care

B. macrophylla does not need much care, just cut down the old stems and leaves in Spring for fresh ones to grow, pull off any leaves during the year that look tatty and cut off the flowers after they have finished to tidy the plant up. The easiest method  to get new plants is division, dig up the whole plant up in late Autumn, cut it up into a few pieces which include some root and plant the pieces. B. macrophylla generally disease and pest free and easy to look after, though like all plants it will appreciate being watered if the weather is very dry for a while.

 

Top tip!

Cut back to the base of the plant any stems with leaves that revert to plain green or the whole plant may revert back to green. Keep an eye in a very hot summer in case it dries out too much.

 

Interesting fact 

The Common name “Bugloss” comes from Greek meaning ‘ox tongue’ perhaps referencing to the roughness and shape of the leaves.

 

 

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