Jack Frost may nip at your nose this time of year, but a perennial with the same name warms the heart for a hardy forget-me-not.
‘Jack Frost’ (Brunnera macrophylla) has been named the 2012 Perennial Plant of the Year, an honor well deserved for this beauty. Introduced in 2000 by Walters Gardens in Zeeland, Mich., it was selected the best among 431 perennials considered by the Perennial Plant Association, a trade group of educators, plant breeders, horticulturists and others.
Brunnera is also known as Siberian bugloss, which refers to its origin and the rough textured leaves. It’s not uncommon for Siberian bugloss to bloom off and on during the growing season, but it’s best show is April to June. Delicate blue forget-me-not like flowers dangle above the foliage, complementing tulips, daffodils and other spring perennials. The flowers can be cut for spring bouquets, too.
‘Jack Frost’, like other brunneras, does well in the shade and moist, but not wet soil. Too much sun or overly dry soil causes the plants to burn. Morning sun is perfect. It gets up to 18 inches tall and wide. What makes ‘Jack Frost’ special is its intricately green and white variegated foliage, which brightens shady spots.
About the only maintenance is to cut back the foliage in late winter or early spring. The foliage retained during winter protects the crown of the plant from heaving from the soil. Winter hardy to USDA Zone 3, it does best in soil that drains well. ‘Jack Frost’ does not seem to self sow, but the species does, although it is not considered invasive.
Of all of the variegated foliage brunnera, including ‘Looking Glass’ and ‘King’s Ransom’, my favorite is ‘Jack Frost’. Readily available at garden centers and through online and mail-order retailers, ‘Jack Frost’ will not disappoint you.