Each year, the Perennial Plant Association names an outstanding plant its “Perennial Plant of the Year.” Once again, I was delighted to learn that the latest (2012) selection is one of my favorites: Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’. Brunneras (Siberian Bugloss) are valued for their shade tolerance and lovely blooms. A compact woodland plant of 1-2’ rounded mounds, the plant sports 6-8” long heart-shaped leaves. It bears dainty blue flowers held in clusters above the shimmering foliage in mid- to late-spring. The leaves of this Brunnera are intricately detailed with a crackle-like finish. They are dark green, but have a heavily frosted metallic silver overlay. This is an easy-care plant that looks stunning in combination with other perennials containing silver markings with different leaf textures (e.g., Japanese Painted Fern, Pulmonaria, Ginger). The plant grows best in rich, evenly moist soil, requiring little care after established. The old foliage is cut back in the spring (left on through winter, it will protect the crown of the plant). Keep well-mulched in winter.
Because of its outstanding beauty, and unique look, ‘Jack Frost’ is typically very costly. I tend to purchase it at end of season special discounts when it may not look good, knowing it will sprout up and perform great the following year.
The closest runners up for the 2012 honor are also among my favorite and highly recommended perennials. These include: (1) Panicum v. ‘Northwind’ (Switch Grass); (2) Heuchera ‘Caramel’ (Coral Bells hybrid); and (3) Chelone ‘Hot Lips’ (Turtlehead).