arhs Yachts International
arhs Yachts International

Linnaea borealis

By Roslyn Duffus

Twinflower, so named because of the pair of white or pale pink bells that hang off of a two inch stalk, is a very low mat-forming evergreen shrub. The leaves are tiny ovals with scalloped edges, dark green in shadier locations and lighter where they get more sun. They require good moisture and an acidic, humus rich soil. They will flower better with an annual top dressing of compost. This year, mine flowered spring through July, I suspect because of the copious rain in June and fog in July.

This plant is easy to propagate by cuttings and will set seed which should be set out in the autumn. I haven’t tried seed yet or even looked for it.

This little plant probably would be inclined to disappear if there is too much competition but would make a nice ground cover around the bases of rhododendrons and other woodland shrubs. Twinflower is one of those delightful little woodlanders that always catch my eye when in flower. I was very happy to get a couple of pots from Jamie Ellison a couple of years ago and thought that I might have to baby this delicate little thing along on the edge of my woods but I have found it to be very easy. It spreads itself along the ground with stems that root as they go and is listed as hardy in Zones 2 to 6. So if global warming becomes an issue, perhaps I will lose it then. It grows in woodlands, heaths and tundra in northern climates around the world.