Pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign’
One of the most welcome sights in my spring garden each year is the return of my pulmonarias, particularly ‘Blue Ensign’, which I’ve been growing now for about a decade.
I have yet to capture an image of its true colour, but this is as close as I’ve come:
Pulmonaria species flowers are generally a mid-violet-blue colour, but those of ‘Blue Ensign’ are a significantly richer, deeper blue, almost electric blue in some lighting conditions. This cultivar also stands out from the crowd in that it has plain, dark green leaves with none of the characteristic white spotting that one associates with the genus.
Growing it couldn’t be easier provided you have a moisture-retentive soil and a sufficiently damp place in partial shade. Pulmonarias do not take kindly to being dry at the roots – persistent dryness will leave them vulnerable to mildew – and they will quickly wilt if exposed to too much sun.
Having said that, they can be grown in less than optimal conditions. Mine aren’t ideal, in fact: my soil drains fairly freely and bakes hard in hot weather, and my chosen location for ‘Blue Ensign’ gets midday sun all through the summer, but it seems to tolerate these adversities reasonably well as long as I remember to water it from time to time.
One objection that people may have to pulmonarias is that they can be rampant self-seeders, but I haven’t noticed ‘Blue Ensign’ being a problem in that way. It doesn’t seem to spread much either, although that may be because it isn’t entirely happy with its location.
All in all, if you’re after a small, clump-forming perennial to inject a splash of vibrant blue into your shady spring borders and provide a valuable early season nectar source for bees, I’d say you can’t go far wrong with this one.