Bergenia ciliata

I was writing in my newsletter about Bergenia ciliata. Unlike the other bergenias, it has hairy leaves rather like those of an African violet (Saintpaulia) but much bigger. I acquired mine towards the end of last summer, so obviously it has not done much growing – and when it does start, progress is likely to be slow. It probably won’t flower this year, but this is a plant whose flowers are incidental – the leaves, up to 12in (30cm) long and 8in (20cm) across, are the main attraction. With undulating margins, they are puckered and covered in soft hairs. Despite their substantial texture, they are likely to be ravaged by severe winter weather. At present, mine is establishing in a small bed near the house. When I come to plant it out properly, it will need some shelter – I hope it will do well in a shady spot near my ancient apple tree.

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