Thursday, 2 April 2009

In Praise of Primrose Heron

A favourite plant of mine is Stachys lanata 'Primrose Heron', (or Stachys byzantina since it has had its name changed). Here in the UK the more usual silver form is known as Lambs' Lugs (Lambs' Ears!). I have only seen Primrose Heron in a garden centre once, many years ago. Of course, I had to have it!
The above photo taken earlier today shows it in soft sunshine, which illuminates its buttery coloured leaves. It looks good planted among darker foliage; here it is next to an escallonia, with the dark shadow of a juniper in the background, and sedum. The forget-me-nots have just opened today and add a nice contrast to the yellow.

The sun went behind clouds at around 6 pm, and the colours changed to more bluish hues. Whatever the light conditions, Primrose Heron seems to retain a striking luminosity.

I love the furry texture - you can see why it has the Lambs' Ears nickname! In each leaf there is such a variety of colour, from white, cream and yellow to green, which all changes depending on the direction of the light.
Later in the year it will have mauvish flower-spikes, and usually sprawls over the edge of the lawn, which I rather like!

I love to plant it next to very different foliage. Here the red grass Uncinia rubra gives such an exciting contrast of colour, texture and shape.
I'd be interested to know if any of you fellow-bloggers have it - I've never actually seen it in anyone else's garden!


Diane C. said...

I tried growing the silvery lamb's ears once but haven't seen the Primrose Heron variety before. It looks so lovely next to your other plants. I like the forget-me-nots and red grass too.

Phoenix C. said...

Thank you Diane.

Before I got the Primrose Heron I grew the silvery lambs ears very easily. I thought they would look good next to each other, but since getting the Primrose, the silver just won't grow!

I'm hoping for a sea of forget-me-nots this year, as I scattered their seeds everywhere!

Gardeness said...

I love the different lighting and how it plays with the color of the foliage. I've got lamb's ear but always rethink having it when I'm yanking out the scraggly sections. Yours look lovely, though.

A parking strip is the area between the sidewalk and the street. We also call them hell strips because they're often the depositing ground for all the crud dirt churned up during housing construction. The soil tends to be really poor. Without amendments only the toughest plants survive!

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

Oh that really is pretty. I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for that one. I love the texture of lamb's ear too.

Phoenix C. said...

Thank you Gardeness.

I have seen a few houses over here with parking strips, though I don't know if that's what they are called here. I know what you mean about the builders' dirt - the whole of the garden here was like that - only about an inch of soil then rubble! The Primrose Heron is growing in a layer of soil an inch thick over concrete!!

Phoenix C. said...

If you find some, Catherine, it'll be interesting to see photos of it on your blog! I'm going to try and get hold of the silver again and see if I can grow them next to each other successfully second time round!

Anna said...

I used to have the silver lamb's ears in my previous garden and loved it dearly. I forgot to take a clump with me when we moved which was rather remiss of me. I do like the look of 'Primrose Heron' and will keep my eyes open for her. The forget- me- nots are just opening here too. Once you have them you are never without them :)

Phoenix C. said...

The Primrose Heron is really gleaming today, Anna! It rained torrentially, and this seems to add luminescence to the yellowy foliage.