Spring is all about bulbs. Snowdrops, crocus, narcissus, hyacinths, tulips – there are bulbs everywhere you look, responding to the warmth and moisture of spring. But many small woodland perennials are putting on an early display as well, making the most of the light available before the tree canopy takes over.
Omphalodes cappadocica is a native of Turkey, but is quite happy in British gardens in shady spots, tolerating even fairly dry spots. It is evergreen, growing no more than a foot tall, with a slightly wider spread. The slightly hairy leaves are oval and pointed. And just now, it carries bright blue flowers with white centres, reminiscent of forget-me-nots. The variety O. c. ‘Cherry Ingram’ has slightly larger flowers and is the one to look out for.
‘Starry Eyes’ is another form, with each flower having a white margin; to my mind this is not an improvement. Many years ago, I grew O. c. ‘Lilac Mist’, a variety with lilac coloured flowers, but lost it in a hot, dry summer. So I was thrilled to find it again at a specialist nursery a few weeks ago.
Omphalodes cappadocica is often recommended as ground cover, and while several plants would be needed to make a meaningful display in a larger area, single plants in shady corners are enough to make a spring display in smaller gardens.