May 24, 2022
With cheery and bright spring bloomers, sunny spring gardens get a lot of the attention. However, there is so much possibility and excitement to be had in shadier gardens as well, popping with unique foliage and bright blooms all their own. Brunnera macrophylla (BROO-nair-uh mak-roh-FIL-uh), in the borage family, Boraginaceae, also known as false forget-me-not or Siberian Bugloss, in reference to its coarse leaf texture resembling that of an ox tongue, is an excellent plant to liven up shadier spaces and provide some early season color.
Brunnera prefers part-sun to shade in rich, moist, well-drained soil yet tolerates clay soil. Native to woodlands of eastern Europe and northwestern Asia, Brunnera grows to form mounded clumps one foot tall by two feet wide of striking variegated silver foliage with green venation. A slow grower, Brunnera spread slowly by underground rhizomes to serve as a gorgeous and manageable shady groundcover.
Blooming from mid-spring to early summer, Brunnera put on a stunning display, producing abundant airy sprays of delicate five-petaled light blue flowers on wiry stems that usher in the warmer months to come. After their blooms fade, the showy variegated foliage persists, providing shady interest all season long and offering an array of appearances, including the massive silvery leaves of ‘Alexander’s Great,’ the nearly pure silver foliage of ‘Silver Heart,’ and the classic look of ‘Jack Frost.’ Brunnera are an excellent choice for planting in shady perennial borders, near streams or ponds, or other shady garden beds, and will be left alone by deer and rabbits, making them the perfect choice for woodland gardens as well.