Monday, March 19, 2012

Bergenia emeiensis 'Apple Blossom': a Chinese bergenia

This is a plant that grows on you. Plus it's another species, or at least it's a selection of a species, from the venerable Mt. Emei. Actually, I spent a good bit of time, by internet standards, researching the cultivar and was unable to determine whether it was a hybrid (I suspect it is) or just a sport.  B. emeiensis is supposed to have white flowers and leaves that are largely green. These flowers are pink and the leaves quite red all winter.

When  I was a young gardener I became enchanted by bergenias, or at least by pictures of bergenias. The plants themselves never really measured up, and I nodded to myself this evening as I read the "Bergenia Troubles" thread on Gardenweb. I had encountered those same issues: pests, notably slugs, in the summer and generally ugly leaves in the winter. I love evergreen perennials but what's the point of being evergreen if the leaves are ugly in the winter.  And so I wasn't terribly enthusiastic about this plant when I moved to the Asian Collections and found it growing at the GCA Circle. Well, I haven't encountered the old familiar problems with this one. Apparently the Chinese species are more heat tolerant so maybe the plant isn't giving out distress calls that lure in pests. I don't know what's going on in the winter but I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. I divided it last year and moved pieces to a more visible location.

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