Brunnera macrophylla

This useful hardy perennial is a member of the borage family, and so of good bourgeois stock. An accommodating foliage plant for a wild garden or shady border, it has hairy, heart-shaped leaves which grow very large in the course of the summer and charming sprays of small forget-me-not flowers in spring. It is easy to grow in any soil, but needs shade, for the leaves scorch in hot sun.

The green-leaved Brunnera has a more distinguished relative, 8. m. ‘Vanegata’. With quite beautiful green leaves bordered with creamy white. Like many variegated plants, it grows slowly and needs a little cosseting in the way of extra moisture and an occasional mulch.

Plant 8. macrophylla in large groups of at least five plants 2 feet (60 cm) apart; they will quickly grow into strong, weed-suppressing clumps, and will also seed round about. This quite ordinary plant has a happy way of enhancing the beauty of surrounding plants, such as lilies, and lends its foliage to flowers without good leaves of their own. I think particularly of some of the late spring bulbs, like bluebells and the richly scented double narcissus ‘Cheerfulness’, both stiff-stalked creatures which are improved by bor-rowed greenery at their feet.

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