E is for Elephants’ Ears

This post for the letter E in the revised A to Z Challenge could equally well have appeared for B.

In our garden there are three different Bergenia plants.  They all flower in spring having pink flowers of various shades.  Their large leaves entitle them to a place under E.  Their common name is Elephants’ ears.  I am not sure how to identify the three species of Bergenia with the names of those on the catalogue from which we chose them.  Their tags have disappeared long ago.  However I do know that the size of the ears is one distinguishing feature between African and Indian elephants.  African elephants have much larger ears.

Elephants' ears (Bergenia)
Elephants’ ears (Bergenia)

Indian elephants’ ears may resemble the leaves of these plants more closely than African ones do.  So where do Bergenias grow in the wild?  My first choice for reference is not Wikipedia, but my bookshelves.  The Dictionary of Garden Plants in colour with House and Greenhouse Plants (BCA 1972) informs me that these are Chinese plants.  The Himalayas are mentioned.  Those are very high mountains.

My mind began to make some associations.  There is no obvious connection between elephants and China, where pandas live.

There is a story from history about Hannibal crossing the Alps with elephants.  Now perhaps that is one for Wikipedia.  (I learned it was not only the Alps, but also the Pyrenees.)

Other plants in our garden with origins in China are paeonies (or peonies).  I prefer the spelling with the diphthong (æ), but my spell-checker objects to it.  Fashions change in spelling, writing, language and gardening.

Our Bergenias have the advantage of tolerating (or even enjoying) shade.  The part of the garden where they grow is shady.  It used to be a lawn (or at least grassy), but the moss grew better than grass due to the climate and the shady location.  Pressure from our daughter led to its conversion to a flower bed, but moss has survived or re-established itself.

There are other flowers with names beginning with E.  How many can you think of?

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D is for Dandelion

Dandelions are very unpopular with gardeners.  Children are advised not to pick them lest they wet the bed.  Yet when they first appear in spring, these flowers named after lions’ teeth, are bright, cheerful and very intricate.  The leaves may be eaten in salads, but are a little bitter for my taste.

Dandelions
Dandelions

I learned from a retired clergyman, no longer with us, that two separate species grow in this area.  They may be distinguished by the colour of their roots (red or white, if I remember correctly).

Dandelion and dandelion clock
Dandelion and dandelion clock

The seeds are designed to be distributed by the wind blowing each tiny parachute and dropping it at a considerable distance from the parent plant.

The photos were taken earlier in May.

This week I decided to add a photo of a dicentra or bleeding heart.  One of these shade-tolerant plants used to grow in our garden.  Whether it was accidentally uprooted, smothered by more vigorous plants or succumbed to frost, I do not know.

Dicentra
Dicentra

This one is growing locally, lovingly tended by a group of volunteers.  They have been successful in Village in Bloom contests over the years.

This post is part of the revised A to Z Challenge.

A is for Ajuga

I am pleased to have found this A to Z Challenge.   At this stage I am uncertain how my posts for the challenge will turn out.  On Mayday I went round the garden with my phone camera snapping plants beginning with different letters of the alphabet.  I had it in my mind to do the official A to Z challenge on this blog next year with the theme of plants.  So far I have pictures of flowers for E, G, H and five more letters.  On 2nd May I read about this challenge, having favourited a Tweet earlier.

Flowers beginning with B are blooming at low levels and in bud in our garden.

For C I have another idea in reserve, although I think there will be lovely photos of a flower beginning with C in time.  With this challenge the pressure is off.  There is almost a month before I need a post for D.  Already there are dandelions in profusion quite near to our garden.

Enough preamble – on to letter A.  The front garden in particular tends to become overgrown with plants battling for the available space.  One plant, which is definitely in the category of ground-cover is the ajuga (or bugle).  The leaves spread out from creeping stems and it sends up flowers in spikes.

Ajuga
Ajuga

The one in the photo is growing in a container. The flower is much bigger than the ones in the front garden. Perhaps the soil is better or deeper. Maybe it has more space. It certainly is in the sunshine for more hours each day. That reminds me of a well-known story, but…

…Sue’s words and pictures is not a faith blog. It is a place, where I intend to share the beauty of the world around me.  There are links to Sue’s Trifles, where faith sometimes dominates a post.