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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

Exciting new foliage and flowering perennial

Posted by Graham Rice on 18 Mar 2009 at 12:12 PM

Brunnera 'King's Ransom'. Image: ©Walters GardensBrunnera macrophylla - doesn't get you excited? Well it should.

In the last few years, this most dependable, but never exciting, shade plant has been transformed. From a reliable ground covering workhorse it's become an essential foliage perennial as new forms have appeared. In particular the spectacular ‘Jack Frost' (silver foliage with green veins) and ‘Looking Glass' (all silver) have elevated these tough perennials into plants we all want to grow in our shade gardens and containers.

I wrote about some of the upcoming new varieties with good flowers here, and forthcoming new varieties with good foliage here.

Now one of the new stars has becomes available from Suttons. Too new even to be included in the 2009/2010 RHS Plant Finder (out soon), Brunnera ‘King's Ransom' is a gem.

Brunnera 'King's Ransom'. Image: ©Terra Nova NurseriesIt features the same bold silver foliage with just a few dark green veins as ‘Jack Frost' but around the edge of each leaf, adding a nice touch of class, is a narrow gold band. And of course there are the same airy clouds of blue forget-me-not flowers at this time of year, as the leaves on the stems develop a much wider creamy margin.

Found as a sport of ‘Jack Frost' on a nursery in Portland, Oregon, ‘King's Ransom' is good in shade, even in dry shade, and makes a superb plant in a large mixed container or as a container specimen. And the deer tend to leave it alone. Just one thing: if you damage the roots, any new growth from the roots will be ‘Jack Frost' - that is, the golden edge will disappear. But that's a minor problem for a great new plant.

Brunnera ‘King's Ransom' is available by mail order from Suttons.

In the June issue of the RHS magazine The Plantsman, I've written an article about all the many new and old brunneras - a surprising forty seven varieties in all! The Plantsman is only available by subscription. RHS members can subscribe here, non members can subscribe here.



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