Bergenia x schmidtiiElephant's Ears; Bergenia

Family: Saxifragaceae

Of garden origin: parents from E Asia

The variable hybrid Bergenia crassifolia x B. ciliata. Supposedly one of the commonest bergenias in cultivation.

This easily-grown plant has handsome, large, slightly succulent leaves up to 25 cm (10 inches) long x 18-20 cm (7-8 inches) wide; the petiole can be up to 30 cm (12 inches) long. New leaves are at first pink-bronze, then bright green, later gradually turning dark green. The flowers are bright pink in colour with a darker centre, and are densely packed on stout, upright, red-flushed stems. One of the earliest-flowering garden plants, which can be in full flower in snow in January and February, and tolerates both thin soil and a north-facing position in the garden.

The plant spreads by a stout, creeping rhizome, on or just below the soil surface.

Named after Professor Karl August von Bergen (1704-1760), from Frankfurt an der Oder.

Photographed in a garden in Island Magee, Co Antrim.

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