Pig squeak

Pig squeaks have big shiny, paddle-shaped leaves surround a sturdy, 16-inch stalk that bursts into exuberant pink, sometimes white, flowers with dark centres. A member of the saxifrage family from Asia, this is Bergenia cordifolia, named for its heart-shaped foliage. It has also been dubbed pig squeak for the sound it makes if you rub the leaves between your fingers. It blooms early in spring, sometimes again in fall.

The dark green leaves of pig squeaks are leathery, a bit cabbage-like, eight to ten inches wide and grow in rosettes. Their texture makes a nice foil for the more delicate fronds of ferns, bleeding hearts or astilbe and the leaf shape and shininess also provide a contrast with hosta.

Bergenia will grow in quite deep shade, spreading slowly via thick, woody rhizomes in darker, drier areas. To increase a plantation, divide and replant the divisions. If they get at least a half-day of sun and light and adequate moisture, they will increase faster. Bergenia can make an eyecatching ground cover grown in the moist conditions in a sunny place.

The leaves on this “evergreen” turn burgundy in fall.

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