Bergenias are ideal plants in the exotic garden, particularly in jungle gardens, where their rosettes of large dramatic oval-shaped leaves blend well with other big-leaved plants and provide a low-maintenance groundcover that is robustly hardy. Used in this way, the humble Bergenia looks deceptively tropical and if fed well with a nitrogen-rich organic soil, it can form a luxuriant emerald-green clumping mat with the leathery elephant's ear leaves themselves reaching an impressive size. In spring, spikes of pink bell-shaped flowers arise from this lush sea of green foliage, held aloft on splendidly contrasting bright red stems, further adding to its overall exotic quotient. In autumn, the foliage takes on a reddish-bronze colouration. At this time, any leaves which have become a bit tatty should be removed.
In its natural habitat of Northern China and the eastern reaches of the Russian Federation, this is a plant that is more accustomed to pushing its panicles of pink flowers up through a blanket of snow than lounging around in a jungle and it is an indication of just how hardy and reliable it is.
Bergenia crassifolia is one of the most popular plants in cultivation, grown by millions of keen gardeners around the world. It is therefore a curious irony of the conventions of the International Rules of Taxonomic Nomenclature that it is generally grown by all those millions under a name - Bergenia cordifolia - that is not considered a valid accepted name but only a synonym. This is a somewhat irritating fact and another example of hoticultural taxonomy being at variance with popular horticulture.
|Synonyms||Bergenia biflora, Bergenia biflora var. hawortiana, Bergenia bifolia, Bergenia cordifolia, Bergenia coreana, Bergenia crassifolia var. cordifolia, Bergenia media, Hygrophila pilosa, Justicia burchellii, Saxifraga cordifolia, Saxifraga crassifolia, Saxifraga crassifolia var. elliptica, Saxifraga crassifolia var. obovata, Saxifraga crassifolia var. pauciflora|
|Geographical Origin||China, Mongolia, Siberia|
|Cultivation||Prefers partial shade and a moist rich soil|
|Eventual Height||30 cm|
|Eventual Spread||1 m|
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