Pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign’
The darkest blue blooms of them all – gorgeous, pure gentian and sapphire blue. No lover of winter pools of deep blue should be without it. Very long blooming. Discovered as another of those oh so lucky chances at the Royal Horticultural Society’s garden at Wisley. Pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign’ LUNGWORT can suffer from mildew when humid summer days prevail – but the remedy is easy, just slash off the manky leaves at ground level, give it a feed, and make it grow some nice new fresh ones for you. Foliage is broad and dark green. So if you loath variegated foliage – this is the one for you. Foliage forms a thick clump that weeds are deterred by. A mass planting makes a great weed proof mat under trees and shrubs.
Given the Shade they love, and retentive soil laced with organic matter so the water does not race through, then Pulmonaria are not thirsty plants. Normal average garden watering is more than enough. Plus they can tolerate some periods of dry in shade because they have robust rhizome roots that can forage for water and nutrients well.
And they are particularly fond of clay based soils as long as they are not waterlogged.
Growing: Pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign’
– Height with flowers: 30cm. approx.
– Width: Neat, round dense clump of foliage to a diameter of approx. 60cm.
– Growth: Evergreen perennial clump that is In no way invasive.
Where & how to grow
– Position: Full Shade to Part Shade, Morning Sun or Dappled Shade under trees and shrubs. Dislike direct hot summer sun, though a position under deciduous trees, where they get winter-early spring sun is fine, as it is not too hot. They are equally happy in year round shade.
– Soil: Pulmonarias are quite partial to lime, so they relish soil with a pH in the neutral to alkaline range. They like well-drained soil, as long as it has enough organic matter in it to retain moisture long enough for the roots to take it up.
They are after all natural born woodland plants, so they really thank you for leaf litter, compost, and any organic matter you can provide. Water-wise in shade gardens.
Nor are Pulmonarias hungry plants, so they require little to no extra fertilizing.
– Frost: Extremely frost hardy and ignores even very hard frosts to well below -10C.
– Beneficial for wildlife: Because of their exceptionally early flowering season, Pulmonaria are a wonderful source of nectar at a critical time for bees, butterflies and other beneficial pollinators.
– Care: Pulmonarias are hardy, easy, low maintenance plants. The only annual work is to tidy up the clump after flowering, by cutting spent flowers stems and the foliage down to the socks. This encourages fresh, new decorative leaves.
– Deer & Rabbit resistant: Bliss!! Both rabbits and deer dislike the taste of Pulmonaria.
Pulmonaria officinalis is native to Europe, and occurs widely, from the summer heat of central Italy and Croatia, to the winter chills of Sweden and Denmark. So it is clearly a very hardy and adaptable plant.
It is a woodland plant in both deciduous and evergreen forest and woodlands, and has a particular liking for limestone country, and areas with heavier clay based soils, as long as they are not waterlogged.
A busy plant in history
Pulmonaria is a rather unattractive name for such a pretty plant. But fortunately it has also acquired more romantic common names across the centuries. Some of the most popular common names are “Mary’s Tears”, “Our Lady’s Milk Drops”, “Jerusalem Cowslip”, “Soldiers and Sailors”, and “Spotted Dog” (it does slightly remind of a green Dalmation dog I suppose, with all those spots).