The star turns in our London garden are performed by those plants that can survive with their heads in semi-shade and their roots in dense, damp, unctuous clay. Some plants give stardom a shot, only to find the going tough after a season: these one-hit wonders fade away and are quickly forgotten. But a few enjoy the challenge, thrive on it even, returning year after year to delight with a virtuoso performance. One such star, or perhaps I should stay starlet, is Omphalodes cappadocica ‘Cherry Ingram’ AGM.
Akin to the biennial forget-me-not, this neat, well-behaved perennial produces masses of vivid indigo-blue flowers in spring, hence the common name ‘blue-eyed Mary‘. This year my clump, which has developed from a single plant acquired some years ago from Sissinghurst, has flowered before nary a leaf has unfurled. I can only think this might be a consequence of the very cold nights we’ve been experiencing. The lack of foliage matters not. In fact it means the vibrancy of the flowers is highlighted all the more by a backdrop of manure and magnolia petals. Oh the glamour of it all!
To grow Omphalodes cappadocica ‘Cherry Ingram’ successfully, all that’s needed is a rich soil (clearly texture is not an issue) and cool shade. The blue flowers are fabulous on their own, planted beneath a host of golden daffodils or amongst a carpet of sulphurous primroses: yellows, creams and whites are great friends to blue at this time of the year. Like Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, blue-eyed Mary has staying power, delivering a command performance every time.