This emerald coloured bergenia is coming alive after a long winter. Its thick, waxy leaves actually “resurrect”. They can look completely dead and then just straighten up in the spring. While raking leaves around this plant, I am reminded why the resurrection myth appears in cultures scattered across the globe. We see it right under our feet every spring. I feel like Demeter peering into the earth waiting for her daughter to emerge from the underworld.
Bergenias come from the area between Afghanistan and China. They can grow in extreme temperature ranges in almost any light conditions. They form a slow-growing ground cover and are some of the earliest plants to bloom. I have never seen them get diseased and even slugs don’t seem to bother them much as long as you clean out all the dead foliage beneath them.
This year was one of the warmest on record (2015 lost but only by a fraction of a degree). That may be why I am seeing so many green plants emerging from under the snow. This periwinkle is untouched by the winter. It was here when we bought the house and, judging by the thick mat, it could have been here since 1945 when our house was built. The original owners were somehow connected to the landscaping services at the UofA and I keep finding interesting plants throughout the garden. Many are dwarfed and covered with vegetation but not this periwinkle, it’s getting ready to take over the front yard.
Periwinkle originates in the Mediterranean. That’s hard to believe as it’s one of the hardiest plants through the prairie winter. In fact, it’s a bit too hardy. When planted in any flowerbed it starts to take over and the underground stolons are impossible to eradicate. One reason I am fond of it is that it grows in areas where no other plant survives. A friend has it growing in a deep window-well where it gets no light at all. It’s still blooms there with brilliant blue flowers.
There is nothing very memorable about the way this creeping thyme ended up in my garden. I picked it up from Home Depot in a plastic six-pack and planted it between paving stones on the south side of the house. This thyme must have thought that it died and went to heaven as within one summer it covered the paving stones and is now edging out the sedum angelica. It even stays green all winter!
There are over 150 varieties of thyme available and some are hardy to zone 2. This fragrant ground-cover is as hardy as grass. My daughter has parties by the fire-pit through the summer and our thyme gets stepped on all the time but nothing damages it – not even hoards of university students. Once the warm weather comes it will become a blanket of lavender.