Befuddled by Bedfellows

DSCN1339I picked up a very healthy Pulmonaria ‘Sissinghurst White’ in one of my garden centre forays last week, seemingly fresh new stock, and have planted it in the extension to the species snowdrop border, which still looks like a sea of labels and green shoots bobbing about on a brown sea. None of my existing specials have opened their buds yet this year (nor have any of the single nivalis in the woodland edge border), and some have shown no sign of any buds at all – a few days of warm sunshine would help, but that certainly won’t be this week.

I am still debating what to fill the rest of the border with, to provide summer shade for the snowdrops while they recoup and build up their strength for next year. In the past I have tried to restrict the colour palette purely to white and green, but I struggled to find plants that would cope with the dryish shade and also allow as much light as possible in the winter months to show off the snowdrops. ‘Sissinghurst White’ seems to be the only white pulmonaria I have come across, and I haven’t yet found a decent hardy white flowered geranium that is compact enough to fit the bill. White hellebores are another option, but I don’t want too much variation in height as it is a fairly narrow border. There is already an Epimedium x youngianum ‘Niveum’, which works well – but what else would work? I did wonder whether to forgo the white/green condition, and fill the bed with pulmonarias, focussing on those with the more silvery leaves, but that somehow seems too indulgent! Some serious research is needed – or lots of tried and tested suggestions from anybody reading this!


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7 Responses to Befuddled by Bedfellows

  1. Pauline says:

    P. Sissinghurst White is a lovely pulmonaria, it doesn’t seem to spread everywhere like the common one. If you want to continue the small white theme, how about Viola cornuta . My single G.nivalis are now open and adding to the overall scene in the woodland, why do they take so long to open, I’m sure they never used to?!

    • Cathy says:

      I’ll look out for that viola, thank you. I definitely feel the nivalis are later this year, but began my blog a month later than this so can’t check – but will be able to next year!

  2. How about Solomon Seal (Polygonatum odoratum). There is a nice variegated variety. Or Solomon’s Plume (Smilacena racemosa).

    • Cathy says:

      Ah! Yes, the polyganatum is a good idea and I already have some elsewhere in the garden – thanks for reminding me about that one! Do you grow it, and do you get sawfly on yours? We don’t get sawfly every year, but when we do they devastate the gooseberries too 😦 . I haven’t come across the smilacena before but will look into into it

  3. julie says:

    Dicentra alba is light and airy in early summer and keeps to your colour theme. I have used ferns in my woodland beds as they cope well with the dry shade and have a dramatic presence in the summer and autumn, but can be cut back for the early spring season. My snowdrops are also late this year – they are all out now, but a good two weeks later than last year.

    • Cathy says:

      Hi Julie – thanks for dropping in. I think I have tried dicentra before and it was a bit too dry for it, but we cut the hedge back considerably last year so that will make a difference. I have also considered ferns, which I know would do well, but I want to avoid replicating the woodland edge border (shown in ‘Simple Pleasures’ post), much as I love it! It’s great to get ideas from other gardeners though, as it is making me think again about using plants in a different way or a different place. Interesting that you say your snowdrops are so much later too – we have been so short of sun since that last mild spell we had, and I’m sure it would make all the difference.

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