I have not featured as many Irish plants as I should have done really but this little beauty will help to redress the balance. Now I know that not everyone likes bergenias as much as I do and they can be a bit coarse and, if they are neglected, verge on the downright ugly, but they have a lot of good features. Their creeping stems and evergreen leaves make them the perfect edging plant for a border against stone or gravel and their flowers can be showy in spring.
Bergenia purpurascens is not the toughest of the species and needs a bit of care to look really fabulous and it will not take the thin chalky soils that others tolerate. But then you do get rich red shades in winter and deep pink or cherry red flowers in spring. So I fell in love with this clump of ‘Irish Crimson’ at Kilmacurragh. It is thought to have come, a long while back, from the Botanic Gardens at Glasnevin but was put into the ‘trade’ by Beth Chatto after she received plants from Helen Dillon. It was included in the RHS trial of bergenias where it was one of the star turns and was given an Award of Garden Merit.
In the sun the leaves shone like rubies and, being a relatively small leaved species it would fit into any garden. It would look amazing with snowdrops and snowflakes or with hakonechloa and, if you really have the stomach for some colour, with some bright heucheras.