Bergenia ‘Bressingham White’
Pristine flowers early in the season
Bergenia ‘Bressingham White’ is treasured for pristine white bunches of flowers in late winter and early spring.
The snow white heads sparkle against vivid foliage colours in this valuable early season flowering.
(Scroll down to “Growing” section for plant details & growing advice).
‘Bressingham White’ is renowned as being one of the most prolific blooming of all the Bergenias. The bell shaped flowers are tightly clustered in heads, so they show so well above the thick carpets of lovely foliage.
Although it is an historic variety, it has never been bettered where a white flowered Bergenia is needed.
While the flowers are lovely – it is really all about the foliage
Vivid winter foliage colours are a special treat.
Because Bergenia leaves remain evergreen all year, but really become a wonderful colour feature in winter.
So cold weather promotes a symphony of reds, burgundies and plum shades, and they simply revel in frost.
Plus poor soil conditions bring out the colour even more beautifully.
Then during the warm months the handsome leaves are deep green, glossy, and leathery tough.
Bergenias are renowned for their toughness and hardiness in far from ideal conditions.
Tough & tolerant of a wide range of conditions
Part Shade to Full Shade is best though not essential.
They cope extremely well under big old trees and shrubs.
Where they can tolerate periods of dry very well.
However they are tough enough to also grow in Sun, though the leaves will not be as large or lush, and may scorch.
Poor soil & seaside – anything goes
Bergenia accept a wide range of soils, including poor soil.
They are a wise choice for seaside and coastal gardens, as the leathery, waxy leaves make them tolerant of salt laden winds.
Bergenia are not thirsty plants, and can tolerate periods of dry very well because they have such fleshy, robust root systems to store water and nutrients effectively.
Tough, weed suppressing ground-cover
Bergenia look wonderful planted as a ground-cover carpet.
And several plants massed can completely cover the ground surface with lush foliage, so weeds are blocked.
Bergenia is not invasive.
But solid root systems make Bergenia indispensable as binding plants for banks and slopes in shaded areas. While the complete foliage cover means you don’t have to be down on hands and knees weeding on the slope.
Low maintenance & undemanding
Bergenia are very low maintenance plants, needing little if ever attention, so again no need for you to go scrambling about on the slope. A tidy up after winter is all the maintenance required (and they won’t care if you forget).
They are renowned as being undemanding, and virtually disease and pest free.
Where to use in the garden
Bergenia are a wise choice for planting under trees and shrubs; in dry shade or deeply shaded gardens; on banks and slopes that need a binding groundcover; as an evergreen edge for a shaded garden or path; and gravel gardens.
And they are a traditional choice for decorative pots and urns because of their tough health, interest all year round, and lush look despite poor conditions.
Plus they look marvellous mixed with Hostas as foliage contrast.
Lovely in garden & vase
So both the showy flower Heads, and the beautiful leaves, make excellent cut flowers for vases indoors.
Growing: Bergenia ‘Bessingham White’
– Height with flowers: 35cm. approx.
– Width: 60cm. approx.
– Position: Part Shade to Full Shade is best. However they are tough enough to grown in Sun, though the leaves will not be as large or lush, and may scorch. They put up a very creditable performance almost anywhere, including Dry Shade.
– Soil: Accept a wide range of soils, from sandy to clay, with pH from acid to alkaline lime. Prime performance is in humus rich soil with average, normal moisture.
– Water-wise: They are also not thirsty plants, and can tolerate periods of dry very well because they have such fleshy, robust root systems which store water and nutrients effectively.
Hardy and very adaptable
– Frost: Very frost hardy and resilient. Cold temperatures and poor soil brings out even better winter foliage colours.
– Growth: Evergreen perennial.
– Beneficial for wildlife: Abundant flowers that are rich in pollen and nectar are a big help to bees and butterflies in the late winter and early spring, when other flowers.
– Care: Very hardy. So Bergenia is a really easy, low maintenance option.
– Deer & Rabbit resistant: Not attractive to rabbits or deer due to there leathery leaves.
History and Myths
– Origin: Bergenia hail from the east, from central Asia, Afghanistan and China, where they grow in woodlands and rocky outcrops.
– Myths & Legends: Bergenia has acquired many common names, but one of the most unusual must surely be “pig squeak”, because of the noise produced when you rub a leaf between thumb and finger. Kids sure do love this.
Other common names include “elephant’s ears” – referring to the shape of the leaves, and “red hearts” – referring to the vivid winter colours of the leaves, as well as ‘heart leaf’ for obvious reasons.
The Bergenia genus is named after German botanist, author and physician Karl August von Bergen.
‘Bressingham White’ was a particular favourite of that marvellous plantswoman, Beth Chatto, as well as Edwardian garden designer Gertrude Jekyll. Neither of these imposing ladies would have ever tolerated a plant that was not a top performer.