Pulmonaria ‘Blake’s Silver’
This must be the most handsome, almost completely silver foliage I’ve seen. It is set off with a green rim and green leaf base, but is otherwise an even soft greeny silver. In march it is crowded with good trusses of lovely, nicely flared and shaped baby-blue and pink flowers which look outwards rather than down. Opening quite a rich pink it quickly softens to a pastel pink, tinged blue at the edges as if painted in watercolour. the colour changes completely to a soft blue with just a pink eye and the faintest bee lines which are translucent and appear faintly pink. The combination of flower quality, superb foliage and pretty colour combination is sure to make this a firm favourite. Originally from June Blake in Ireland
Jerusalem Cowslip, Lungwort, Soldiers and Sailors
Pulmonarias are chiefly plants of light woodland, and form good ground cover, althoughthey do vary in how dense they grow, some forming tight clumps and others tending more to spread thinly. They are on the whole evergreen, the spotted, or in some cases all silvered, leaves of many being a significant garden feature over winter. They are easily pleased as to soil type, but will be more prone to mildew in very dry sites, and would prefer a generous addition of organic matter. They tolerate clay soils well. Many Pulmonaria originate from deep humus rich soils over limestone, but Pulmonaria angustifolia (the least evergreen species) grows naturally on slightly acid sites.
All lungworts are excellent early nectar sources for insect.
Give plants a good haircut after flowering to regenerate a good leafy clump and again mid-season if you are of a tidy mind.
The species are apt to cross freely, so there is some argument on the origin of some varieties, as is there with the classification of the red Pulmonaria rubra, which is sometimes placed in Pulmonaria mollis, and at other time in Pulmonaria montana. Once established they will also self-seed, but will not usually come true.
Pulmonaria used to be used to treat ailments of the lung, a situation founded on the ‘doctrine of signatures’ as developed by Paracelsus (1491–1541) and later made popular by Jakob Böhme (1575–1624). The spotted leaves were thought to resemble the lung and therefore indicted its medical use.
‘..every part of the plant is mucilaginous, but its reputation for coughs arose not from this circumstance, but from the speckled appearance of the leaves, resembling the lungs !’ – J.E. Smith (English botanist and founder of the Linnean Society.)
The common name ‘Jerusalem Cowslip’ derives from Pulmonaria officinalis growing in meadows and flowering at a similar time to Primula veris (cowslip). The name Jerusalem was often added to names of plants that resembled, but were unrelated to common plants. Pulmonaria officinalis is more tolerant of sun than other species and will hence grow in open meadows.
Soldier and Sailors refers to the way the flowers are frequently blue (sailors) but can open and fade pink (soldiers) as the pH changes.
Named first by Linnaeus as Stricta pulmonaria.