Common name: Caucasian penny-royal (rarely used)
Thlaspi macrophyllum: The late Beth Chatto rated an uncommon plant as one of her top woodland perennials. It is called Thlaspi macrophyllum but usually referred to as Pachyphragma macrophyllum. A native of the Caucasus mountains, Iran and Turkey, it blooms in the spring with attractive white flowers resembling candytuft. And its large, dark-green leaves set off the dainty blooms. This semi-evergreen perennial is clump forming and grows to a height of 45 cm/18 in and a spread of 60 cm/2 ft.
I came across this plant on the trail through the Mediterranean Garden. It lightened the scene and sat happily with all the blooming hellebores. It is said to be tough, reliable, and adaptable. And to top it off - not invasive. But it is unknown to most and hard to get hold of. I think this woodland perennial needs a common name - and one that is easy to pronounce. Pachyphragma macrophyllum is a mouthful and Thlaspi macrophyllum gets stuck on the tongue. Most online plant sites have no common name for it. Only a few give it a common name: Caucasian penny-royal. Not good enough to describe the lift this early bloomer brings to a garden.
The pictures were taken in VanDusen in early spring.
Text and photos by Hughie Jones