I first came across this lovely new perennial six years ago when I was working on a review of all the varieties of Brunnera macrophylla for the RHS magazine The Plantsman. It’s taken this long to build up stock and make it available to gardeners and supply is still limited.
As you can see from the picture, instead of the usual blue flowers ‘Starry Eyes’ has sparkling, eye-catching white flowers with a neat rich blue rim. In other respects it’s exactly the same as the familiar all-blue species: robust, easy to grow, happy in shade, with bold weed-smothering leaves and with clouds of spring flowers in forget-me-not sprays.
This is the third bicoloured brunnera raised by Belgian plant breeder Chris Ghyselen. Earlier he produced ‘Mary’s Eyes’, whose flowers are blue with a white rim, and then ‘Henry’s Eyes’ with darker blue, white-edged flowers and a more robust constitution.
Unfortunately, neither of these are currently available. But with its reversed colouring, and its dependably strong growth, ‘Starry Eyes’ is best of the three as an effective plant in the garden. It was found in his collection in 2005 as a seedling between plants of ‘Betty Bowring’ and ‘Henry’s Eyes’.
Chris Ghyselen also developed ‘Mister Morse’, with silver leaves and white flowers, and ‘Spring Yellow’ with blue flowers plus with yellow foliage early in the year. He’s also developing new varieties of other perennials, especially Persicaria.
You can order plants of Brunnera macrophylla ‘Starry Eyes’ from Hayloft Plants and from Thompson & Morgan.
** Please note the contents of this blog reflect the views of its author and are not necessarily those of the RHS **