Flourishing - despite the cold weather
IN cold slow springs like this one it's great to see certain plants don't let you down and continue to flower on time whilst producing a good display.
If you were to take a walk around Aberglasney this week you would see the Pulmonaria has come into full flower, adding splashes of blue to the display. Pulmonaria, or lungwort as it is often known, is a really old garden plant that has been used in cottage gardens and woodland gardens for quite some time.
The main reason we grow them is for the blue, white or reddish pink flowers and the attractive spotted leaves.
They have plenty of different uses in the garden especially as they are one of the earliest flowering perennials.
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They are excellent for small gardens as they are low growing and fairly slow.
As they start early in the season they make decent ground cover too, they are also good in shady spots and go well between shrubs. They work well in wild gardens and are popular with bees.
At Aberglasney we grow about four different varieties but I've been so impressed with them this year that we will try quite a few more in the future.
One thing we have found is that they do well in open positions even south facing ones. Although this contradicts the normal advice you'll get it seems that in our climate they can take a little more sun. What makes Pulm- onaria especially useful for us is that their colours go well with the spring flowering shrubs and bulbs especially the blues.
There are plenty of different varieties and colours to choose with the same level of variety in the leaves.
They are perfectly hardy and will last for years if divided regularly.
They require very little care other than dead heading and the removal of old flowers and leaves.
When it comes to choosing a variety it really depends on which colour you want.
Pulmonaria Blue Ensign has beautiful deep blue flowers — a really useful colour to mix with Narcissus.
Pulmonaria Sissinghurst White is another favourite as the flowers show up well in shady places. Pulmonaria Cotton Cool does very well for us in a south facing spot where it comes into flower just after the Snowdrops and seems to mix with any of the other spring flowers in the area.
However, it is not just the flowers that are useful, the leaves are very attractive and give a long season of interest.
As they come out early in the season they cover the ground before the early weeds and don't seem to mind being crowded by later perennials.
A less common variety that has great foliage is Pulmonaria Diana Clair and can be grown for its leaves alone.
Using Pulmonaria in the garden is really easy and you won't experience many problems with pests and diseases.
The most important thing is not to grow them somewhere that is too dry and then you'll avoid mildew problems. On the whole Pulmonaria are great for the garden and the environment so are well worth trying.
They can be purchased in most nurseries and it is best to buy good quality large plants to get them off to the best start. Sometimes the old favourites that are as good as anything new.