I’ve arranged the Brunnera on this page from the plainest leaf through the variegated to the most silvered so you can compare them easily.
- Brunnera macrophylla ‘Hadspen Cream’. Handsome heart-shaped leaves with an irregular, bold yellowy-cream edging which persists all season Especially beautiful in spring with its delicate expanding cloud of pale blue forget-me-not flowers. The leaves are relatively long petioled and wavy in profile. Grows best in light shade 45cm
Brunnera macrophylla ‘Dawson’s White’ is a beautiful leaf form with large heart shaped leaves boldly bordered in white. A delicate cloud of pale blue forget-me-not flowers brings the whole plant to life in spring. Grows best in light shade and needs to be sited away from full sun where the leaves can sometimes scorch. 60cm This variety was brought to cultivation from a garden in Holland some time before 1969 by Douglas Dawson. The variegation is bolder, white rather than yellow, and the whole plant more compact than Brunnera ‘Hadspen Cream’.
- Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’. Coarsely hairy, heart-shaped leaves are heavily silvered and picked out by dark green margins and veins, making fascinating patterns not unlike a intricate cathedral window. A picture form Spring to Autumn especially when given shade and adequate moisture to prevent scorching in high Summer. The Spring display is further enhanced by an airy cloud of icy-blue forget-me-nots on stems decorated with smaller but similarly marked leaves. 50cm
Brunnera macrophylla ‘Mister Morse’ is the white flowered version of Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’, the only feature that separates the two. Coarsely hairy, heart-shaped leaves are heavily silvered and picked out by dark green margins and veins, making fascinating patterns not unlike a intricate cathedral window. A picture from Spring to Autumn especially when given shade and adequate moisture to prevent scorching in high Summer. The Spring display is further enhanced by an airy cloud of pure-white forget-me-nots on stems decorated with smaller but similarly marked leaves. 50cm
Very similar to the ever popular Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ except that it is a little whiter and has an elongated pointed tip to the leaf. Leaved are a lovely silvered with the veins picked out in green forming a dense mound in any situation that is out of direct sun. Clouds of blue forget-me-not flowers in Spring.
- Brunnera macrophylla ‘Looking Glass’. The heart shaped leaves create a handsome silver clump. Very similar to Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ but the leaves are even more heavily silvered without as much contrast form the veins. The sky-blue forget-me-nots are held aloft on stems similarly decorated with smaller heart shaped silver leaves with a broad green blotch where the veins coalesce. 50cm
Brunnera was first discovered growing in woodland in the Caucasus in 1800 and named in Honour of the Swedish Botanist Samuel Brunner (190-1844). Like so many members of the Borage family, the whole plant is roughly hairy. Though not usually seen as an edible plant, we did own a Border Collie who was often seen chewing the leaves of a particularly prominent Brunnera ‘Dawson’s White’.
Brunnera is especially useful for growing in partial or full shade where it provides excellent ground cover. The large heart shaped leaves are very decorative, particularly in the variegated and silvered forms and the cloud of small blue forget-me=nots are delightful in spring. They are on the whole fairly undemanding in their needs, but grow at their very best in a moist leafy soil. They are tolerant of heavy clay soils. Whilst they are definitely cool growers for preference, they can be grown in full sun if ample moisture is always available.
The variegated forms can be apt to scorch in sun or wind, and it is also a good idea to avoid disturbance to the roots of variegated varieties as this can sometimes encourage green shoots to be thrown.
Brunnera is a relative of, and not a true forget-me-not. The true Forget-me-nots are classified in the Genus Myosotis, also in the Boraginaceae.
The Forget-me-nots gained their name from the final gesture of a dying knight. The knight was about to part for battle when he was asked by his true love to gather some blue flowers from beside a lake. He gathered the flowers, but tripped and fell into the water. As he tossed the bunch towards her he bid her to ‘forget-me-not’ before he slipped beneath the surface and drowned.
Brunnera macrophylla (Anchusa myosotidiflra) Siberian Bugloss. Caucasus, Siberia