Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today

 
 

NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.

 
 
 
 

NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.

 
 
 
 

New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.

 
 
 
 

Plant Profiles

Siberian Bugloss

brunnera-siberica-overall-640

 

Flowers like forget-me-nots.  Large veiny leaves like American ginger.  And a fabulously ugly name:  Bugloss.  Yum!

 

This is Siberian bugloss, Brunnera sibirica. (And yes: "sibirica" has no "e".)  The real deal, not the lovely and available-anywhere "Siberian" bugloss, Brunnera macrophylla.  Siberian bugloss is my maiden voyage into brunneras, partly because it was described as being more vigorous as well as bigger.  And because it's almost never available outside of Siberia itself, where, I venture, the nursery trade as a whole, let alone the gardening fan-base to feed it, is mighty thin.  Rarity is it's own appea.

 

Truthfully, they're similar, macrophylla and siberica, except that macrophylla isn't quite as large.  So it could be important—well, important to me anyway—to be able to casually let visitors know that, no, the brunnera isn't particularly large because I'm just a good gardener.

 

The real reason the plant is so large is that it's a different species, members of which always get this large.  Better yet, it's almost impossible to get.

 

It's large, then, because it's pompously puffed up with pride—as is its owner.

 

brunnera-siberica-flowers-640

 

Could those sprays of small flowers be more charming?  More blue, yes—which they are despite my camera's inability to capture it.  Azure even.

 

But more charming?  I think not.  And deer-proof, too. 

 

So it's rough justice that any perennial with quintessentially delicate flowers should be albatrossed with the name "bugloss."  The word has wound its way from Latin through Greek to English, from bous (head of a cow) to gloss (tongue).  All having to do with the large, veiny, and somewhat scratchy leaves.  A stretch, but fun to say:  "BUG-loss."  As in: "That's my rare Siberian BUG-loss.  Not the common species at all, which is a Caucasian.  This is the true Siberian species."

 

I've provided one of the only sources for it in the Western hemisphere—so you can practice getting casually pompous with Brunnera sibirica of your own.

 

 

Here's how to grow this big Siberian bugloss:

 

Latin Name

Brunnera sibirica

Common Name

Siberian Bugloss

Family

Boraginaceae, the borage family.

What kind of plant is it?

Herbaceous hardy perennial.

Hardiness

Zones 3 - 7

Habit

Dense and clumping, like a hosta, and with similar ground-cover potential. 

Rate of Growth

Fast.

Size in ten years

A clump two feet tall and wide.

Texture

The foliage and hosta-like habit create a dense and even heavy texture.  The large, green, veiny leaves are similar to but larger than those of native ginger, Asarum canadense.

Grown for

the surprisingly-delicate upright sprays of deep blue flowers in early Spring that look just like those of the forget-me-not, Myosotis sylvatica, but which itself has a much different habit: small-leaved, prostrate, and colony-forming.

 

the large, coarse, and thickly-growing green leaves that follow the flowers, giving the plant a contrasting Summer and Fall persona as a rough-edged and even thug-like clumping groundcover.  In the right spots, and for the right gardeners, rough-edged and thug-like can be delicious traits, indeed.

 

Flowering season

Early Spring. 

Culture

Part shade in good soil and with normal moisture.  Will tolerate more sun, but needs richer soil and a lot more water if the foliage isn't to scorch.

How to handle it

Plant it and enjoy.  Needs neither staking nor dividing nor deadheading nor (with enough shade) worrying about Summer watering. 

 

Would be a marvelous contrast with ferny-leaved shade-lovers like...ferns.  Or variegated shade-happy ornamental grasses such as hakonechloa and carex.  Or variegated liriope.

Downsides

Not for dry sites or too much sun, both of which will scorch the foliage.  With leaves this large, scorching would be a sorry sight.

Variants

B. macrophylla has many cultivars, often with vivid variegation in silver or yellow.  They can be difficult to sustain, and the less-colorful self-seeding volunteers must be diligently removed.

Availability

www.Brunneras.com (no, really), a British web page of, literally, a single page, says that B. sibirica is so rare there's only one source even in the UK.  Here in the US, try to visit the incomparable OpusTopiarium.com in Rhode Island—who, alas, doesn't ship.    

Propagation

Division and seeds

Native habitat

Eastern Asia: They don't call this "Siberian" for nothing.


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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