Some of the most beautiful spring-flowering plants that grow well both in sun and shade are forms of pulmonaria. I first remember seeing this form of the lungwort at Beth Chatto’s garden in Essex when we visited as horticultural students from nearby Writtle College. It was then planted in an inspiring combo with Spirea ‘Gold flame’. The latter had been cut hard back so that its vivid new shoots – in shades of orange-red – were timed to contrast beautifully with the deep blue flowers of this pulmonaria.
While there are a whole host of different forms of this robust, herbaceous perennial, ‘Azurea’ earns its place in the garden by having some of the darkest blue flowers which open from pinkish buds. It also bears plain green foliage which makes a good background contrast to the silver- and spotted-leaved forms of the same species, as well as to other plants.
I like planting this pulmonaria under the edges of deciduous shrubs where it can be seen blooming before the foliage emerges on the bush above. The greener leaved forms can tolerate this situation well, whereas the more variegated types can suffer badly from mildew when they’re stressed by dry soil and enclosed by other plants in summer.
HEIGHT: 30cm (12in.)
SPREAD: 45cm (18in.)
SOIL: Clay, loam or chalky soils, acid, neutral or alkaline soils. Moisture-retentive, but free-drained.
ASPECT: Full sun, part or dappled shade. Best in a north-, west- or east-facing location.
HARDINESS: Hardy down to -20C
Click on Height, Spread, Soil, Aspect or Hardiness for general information about these terms