Elephants

Bergenia

Bergenias, now there is a problem, do I like them or not?  Well, the jury is out having a cup of tea and a lengthy chat, possibly not about the issue in question, and definitely not in a rush to come to any conclusion. These robust perennials, also known as elephant’s ears, have always left me a little perplexed, I feel I should like them but can’t quite get up the enthusiasm.

This morning, as I was waiting “patiently” for my beloved to reverse out onto the road without knocking down the over-stuffed green bin, I dawdled over to my neighbours’ house.  Some might call this nosy, the harsher might even say trespass, I call it checking all is well.  Lifting a mishmash of cordyline leaves and its own foliage I revealed the shy flowers beneath.  I don’t blame them for cowering, this aspect is north-, in the teeth of the icy wind, east.  Peering intently to see if I could solve the quandary, my head admitted that they are indeed very pretty, especially at this bloom-dearth time of year, but my heart was silent.  Strange.

Does anyone remember elephant’s foot cakes?  Enormous profiteroles the size of a, well an elephant’s foot.  They scared me.  A custard slice, or doughnut, or even apple turnover, yes please. This was just too much to take.  I feel a little queasy just thinking about it.

That in turn reminds me of neighbours from my early childhood who had, and I can barely spit the words out, an umbrella stand made of an elephant’s foot.  I thought it gross at the tender age of five, I find it abhorrent now.

Did this trauma put me off over-sized cakes and sturdy plants?  Perhaps.  I like my elephants whole.  In a world where tens of thousands of elephants are killed each year for their ivory, we should do whatever we can to make sure they remain that way.

So I started with a flower and ended with conservation, not quite the road I thought I was on.  Amazing where a bit of wittering will take you.

13 thoughts on “Elephants

  1. Bergenia! Another plant that doesn’t like me. I’ve incorporated them into numerous commercial planting schemes (because they get so thuggish that thinning them down in one place produces the plants for the next). But they’re actually handled by landscape contractors. If I dare to touch one it dies. Oh well 😦 I agree with you: elephants’ feet should remain firmly on elephants. And also not on mine!

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  2. This plant looks familiar, but I think I might not know it as elephant ears. Looks nice in the picture though. I’m very happy that the circuses have decided not to exploit the elephant. And as far as killing them or any other animal, I think you know where I stand.

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  3. Yes – I too have the same quandry….I think if the flowers didn’t hide quite so much and the leaves weren’t quite so messy and big and ugly, then I would like them much better. The flowers and leaf combination look like they’re from two different plants. And we don’t like elephant umbrella stands either – oh no!

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  4. I like them – the flowers can be very prolific (these are a nice, soft mauveish-pink ones) and the foliage can be pretty at some times of the year, especially in good light. Of course, the foliage can also look pretty terrible when it gets blackened, so it isn’t the perfect all year plant, but so few of them are.

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  5. I used to dislike them and I am still not keen on the big leathery, snail- encrusted leaves of the common Bergenia schmidtii. But there are other varieties which have leaves which become bright red in winter and I love these, particularly Wintermarchen, Mrs Crawford, Eric Smith or Admiral. For blooms I love Beethoven for its lovely white flowers.
    Obviously elephants’ legs belong on elephants. People who use animal parts as house decoration should have their own limbs cut off and mounted.

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  6. Not very fond on them as well – but actually I am thinking to add at least one. They are very resilient and the evergreen foliage is a big plus for our climate.
    Now about those cakes, never seen them but sound interesting 😉

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