Bergenia's luck: This once-unloved plant has a persuasive new advocate

 

I'm beginning to think that Sarah Price could successfully start her own cult. She's a garden designer by trade, which doesn't seem the obvious first step to global domination, but she's one of those people who walks into a room and you find yourself wanting to agree with everything she says. Is it the inescapable fact that she is really, um, quite beautiful? Or her clothes, which are all mosaicky colours, causing you to ponder for a moment whether they are real velvet? Are those jewels embroidered into her hair? Is she an actual storybook princess?

This all makes it extremely hard to disagree with her. Especially as she also makes gardens of delightful beauty. And 2012 is due to be a big year: in May, Price is doing one of the most important commissions for the Chelsea Flower Show. Furthermore, in July, everyone who visits the Olympic site will see the glory of her work for themselves because she designed the planting for one of the major chunks there, too – the half-mile strip of park along the riverside. If planting plans and previous form are anything to go by, there will be meadowy jewels aplenty, in waves of colour.

It's her opinions on plants themselves, though, where I'm the most convinced. Or should I say converted? For example, I've always hated bergenias. Disgusting floppy leaves, Saturday-night vomit colours in the floral department. Then I read Price extolling their quiet, meditative beauty, and wondered how I could have got it so wrong. Particularly when she holds the flowers right next to her face, so I go all loopy for a second. Oh my god, is she actually hypnotising me?

Anyway, hypnosis or not, I'm suddenly noticing bergenias everywhere this spring. They are certainly quiet, get-on-with-it plants: I've always had a soft spot for this category of living things, which seem to survive in a garden without any apparent care at all. Stuffed into the corner of flowerbeds and driven over on the edges of drives, bergenias are the ultimate in uncomplaining plants.

But Price has a different attitude to these tolerant growers. Instead of leaving them tucked into places where you can't get anything else to grow, she reckons we should be isolating them, putting them in pots and celebrating their jewel-like qualities. There's a convincing argument here for doing as we're told: boggling along the margins of a disenfranchised flowerbed, bergenias look like lowly ground cover; brought to our attention as a garden-table centrepiece, they're a showstopper.

And once you've joined the cult, you begin to notice that each variety is slightly different. Here, Bergenia cordifolia, with a tiny head of rose florettes; there, Bergenia "Abendglut", with deeper softer flowers, held more delicately. Possibly the most energetic care they will require is removing the deadheads after they've finished flowering, in early May. And now I'm totally converted.

Get the look

Bergenia 'Schneekissen'

The palest flowers touched with pink, reminiscent of almond blossom: would go beautifully with bronze grasses. £6.50 a plant

Bergenia 'Silberlicht'

The prettiest of white bergenias, opening up a whole other range of colour possibilities. £4.90 a plant

Bergenia 'Pink Dragonfly'

Sturdy and enamel-bright, with the neat habit of looking perfect in a pot. £7.50 a plant

As chosen by Claire Austin; all plants from claireaustin-hardyplants.co.uk

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence