Photos Courtesy of Walters Gardens
In the world of flowers, the Perennial Plant of the Year Award is the equivalent of an Oscar. The Perennial Plant Association this year conferred its highest honor upon Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' because it's easy to grow, works in a wide range of climate types, thrives on benign neglect, and "exhibits multi-season interest." I like it because from mid to late spring it blooms blue, a coveted color in the garden because many blue plants, like the aristocratic delphinium, tend to be fickle. (Father, forgive me, for I know thy flora is resplendent without my paltry human assistance, but I cannot keep myself from doctoring my hydrangeas to bloom blue with aluminum sulfate and, following ancient wisdom, burying rusty nails in thy good earth which surrounds them.)
Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost,' 2012 Perennial Plant of the Year
Brunnera macrophylla has several fancy names, including Siberian bugloss and heartleaf brunnera (because of the heart-shaped leaves), but grandmothers like me call it false forget-me-not. Jack Frost thrives in shade but can abide morning sun if the soil is moist. Even when it stops blooming, it has pretty silvery leaves with emerald green veins (below). Their cool look is refreshing on a blistering day.
Jack Frost is a versatile fellow who performs equally well along the front of a shade border, solo in a container, or as part of an ensemble with other ground cover perennials, such as hostas, ferns, and epimediums (which sound distressingly anatomical, so I call them by their common name, bishop's hat.) Below, Jack is shown playing courteously with others.
Finally, Jack Frost has leaves that are rough in texture, which discourages (though does not eliminate) nibblage by deer. It grows about 12 to 15 inches high and spreads to 20 wide. It does not do well in places that are very hot and dry. The popular plant is easy to find on the internet and in stores.