Many Hudson Valley gardeners I meet are always on the prowl for deer-resistant perennials that do well in shade.
You canâ€™t go wrong with foxglove, monkshood, ferns, astilbe, bleeding heart or lily-of-the-valley. Or you could try brunnera, a real winner for the shade garden thatâ€™s not as popular as these other stalwarts.
A new cultivar of brunnera known as â€˜Looking Glassâ€™ looks particularly appealing. Itâ€™s even more silvery than its predecessor, â€˜Jack Frost,â€™ which has earned tons of good press in recent years. Iâ€™ve come to learn that many plants with silver or gray-green foliage are unappealing to deer and rabbits.
Known botanically as Brunnera macrophylla â€˜Looking Glass,â€™ this hardy herbaceous perennial offers large heart-shaped leaves that seem to glow in shade or the soft light of summer evenings. Use it as an accent plant or let a few plants form large clumps and serve as a groundcover.
Common names for brunnera include silver Siberian bugloss, heartleaf bugloss or false forget-me-not because it has similar intensely blue tiny flowers in airy racemes in spring.
Mature plants should grow to about 15 inches wide and 12 inches tall.
Brunnera likes rich, organic soils thatâ€™s well drained but moist. It doesnâ€™t like dry soils and its leaves may scorch on hot sunny days. You will often find brunnera in woodland settings or along a shady streambed.
Try planting â€˜Looking Glassâ€™ among hostas, ferns or tiarellas. Youâ€™ll find this trouble-free plant a welcome addition to any shade garden.
The pictured plant comes from John Duszaâ€™s wonderful garden in Nanuet.