Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Abies balsamea 'Nana'

Friday, June 6, 2014

Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' is my favorite plant in the garden...this week

Today I'm joining again with Loree at the Danger Garden to share my favorite plant this week. Don't forget to visit her to see what plant received the honor of "favorite" in her garden this week, as well as other garden bloggers joining in through the comments.

This week my favorite plant is the well-known Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost', a wonderful, durable plant worthy of any shade garden. I like this plant primarily because it has multiple seasons of interest. In spring it bears brilliant blue flowers (I'm a sucker for blue flowers!) before morphing into a completely different plant for the rest of the spring and summer, bearing large leaves of silver with a netting of green veins.

In early spring (April in my garden) 'Jack Frost' has small, silvery leaves along stems bearing forget-me-not blue flowers. 

The flowers are quite literally forget-me-not blue, as Brunnera is a "cousin" of Myosotis in the family Boraginaceae.

I love seeing these small, blue flowers in spring. 
 Another important quality 'Jack Frost' possesses is that it is a tough plant. It handles being watered only every couple weeks in the summer drought, with rhododendrons and trees sucking up the lion's share. It doesn't seem to be very palatable to any critters that might munch on it, from slugs to deer it is basically left alone. The deer do tend to nip a couple flower stems off every spring, but that's after most of the flowers have passed.

After blooming, 'Jack Frost' sends up leaves 4-6 inches across that will light up the shade garden all summer long. It would look better if I removed the finished flowering stems, but I've noticed a few seed pods maturing. 

And this is why I left those seed pods to mature, a baby Brunnera! It's far enough away from the parent plants that I know it isn't simply a new shoot arising from them. It probably won't be much different from its parents, but seedlings always excite me because of their potential. 

The stats on Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost':

  • Hardy in USDA zones 3-8
  • 1-1.5 feet tall, spreading very slowly by short rhizomes.
  • Moderate water needs
  • Adaptable to most soils
  • Blooms in April-May with forget-me-not blue flowers
  • Silver leaves with green veins are attractive all summer
  • Deer and slug-resistant

I just love those leaves! I really need more of these, as Brunnera is a very slow spreader in my garden.

14 comments:

  1. This is a good one Congratulations on your seedling!

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    1. Thanks Peter! I'm excited to watch it grow, even if it's no different from the parent.

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  2. I love Brunnera too. I also get excited about seedlings, but I've never seen any from my Brunneras. But then they are pretty crowded, so any seeds probably have a tough time finding soil.

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    1. Yes, my garden is still quite thin, lots of bare ground for seedlings. Unfortunately most of them are weeds!

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  3. Finally! I knew if I waited long enough someone will love Jack Frost as much as I do.
    As lovely as the flowers are, the leaves are where the magic is: I simply gush over them year after year. Congratulations to the new father on the baby Brunnera! I'll need to pock around mine: I didn't realize it's possible for it to re-seed.

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    1. I agree. I love the flowers, but the foliage is the real reason to grow this plant. Being deer-resistant, it's invaluable to me. It doesn't reseed much. This is the only one I've found and I'e had these plants for at least 5 years now. There are only a handful of seedpods developing out of all the flowers it had.

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  4. I love that plant but, sadly, it doesn't handle our heat well. I'm trying a Chinese forget-me-not now. No flowers yet but the plants are doing fine so far.

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    1. I hope your Chinese forget-me-nots are a success! The grass is always greener on the other side, the plants are always better in someone else's garden.

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  5. I've never been a huge fan of this plant but the photos of it in your garden have me realizing I'm the one missing out...

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    1. You're too nice! I wish I had a really big sweep of them to fill the area under that rhododendron. It shows up beautifully in the shade, but it still seems a bit small for the space.

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  6. This plant is such a stalwart and associates well with exotic planting :)

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    1. It really is a tough, trouble-free plant. I love those because I don't have to worry about them!

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  7. Deer resistant? Add that to its more obvious charms, and it is definitely going on my want list.

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    1. Yep! The most they do is occasionally nip the tips of the flower stalks, and only the ones that have finished flowering. 'Jack Frost' is the most common, but there are several other cultivars with varying patterns, even a variegated one with cream splashes on the leaves. I'm excited to try the new cultivar 'Alexander's Great' which is twice as big as 'Jack Frost'.

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