Is this the beginning of something wonderful? I don’t know, but I do know this: it is the start of one less post I must fret about per month. Now I can be on virtual autopilot for one fourth of my postings. (That might be a bit optimistic, now that I think of it.) Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still make an effort, it just doesn’t have to be some fresh, innovative, unheard of and clever topic. Featuring my favorite plant for every month is a very worthy topic however, if for no other reason than to prove that Alaskans can grow at least twelve plants.
So without further ado, my choice for “Plant of the Month: May 2010” is Bergenia. Yes, that’s right, lowly Bergenia, or Pigsqueak as it’s also known. Why not something flashier, or more exotic, you’re thinking. Well, in zones 1-5, which cover most of my (rather large) state, we tend to go for sensible…it saves money. How did I determine my winner for the month of May? I scrolled through my vast quantity of (mostly terrible) garden pictures and I realized approximately one in four shots included a Bergenia.
I’m not picky as to species or variety. If it survives, chances are, it will perform well for me. After checking my handy “master yard list” on ye ol’ Excel spreadsheet, I notice lines 27 through 35 are all Bergenia. Nine entries on the computer rates recognition as a small collection, I suppose. My favorite thus far: B. ‘Tubby Andrews,’ pictured below, in a group shot with Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue, some daffs, ferns, Sagina subulata ‘Aurea,’ and Alopecurus pratensis ‘Aureus.’ The flowers on this one haven’t been spectacular for me, but I am a sucker for unusual foliage.
Some quick stats and info on Bergenia in my yard:
Where: sun or shade
1. flowers in spring/summer,
2. one of the earliest perennials to flower in Alaska,
3. boldly shaped foliage that contrasts well with other perennials and grasses,
4. several flower colors available including purplish, pink, white,
5. the foliage on some cultivars turns red or burgundy in the fall,
6. tough plant, can stand some neglect,
7. good grief…how many reasons do you people need?!
How: plant and forget. Well, not quite. I do throw in a handful of compost or rotted manure at planting time and water well the first year to aid in establishment. I tend to like large groupings, they have more impact and make decent ground covers.
This plant is like that singer in the church choir. No, not the one who is always a little flat, sings a beat ahead/behind of the rest, or the one who never attempts to blend their (rather too loud) voice. We are referring to the singer who is always in the background a bit, never obnoxious, but always spot on, pitch perfect. Bergenia is not the diva in my garden choir.
What was your plant of the month for May? Or what plant did you take the most pictures of?