Revelling in the damp conditions this year, the several clumps of Rodgersia pinnata along the paths of the Woodland Garden are looking spectacular. Deeply veined green leaves, resembling the palms of a horse chestnut leaf, create a sturdy base through which emerge tall plumes of flowers, each spray curling back to expose the pink flushed individual flowers.
Its introduction to UK cultivation reads like a who's who of plant hunters. The RBG Kew website recounts that 'R. pinnata was named and described by the French botanist Adrien Franchet in 1888, while studying the collections that were made between Dali and Lijiang in Yunnan by the French explorer, Père Delavay. Seeds of R. pinnata were sent to Kew by the Irish plantsman Augustine Henry in 1898, and first flowered there in 1902. Henry collected the seed north of Mengtze in western Yunnan, where plants were found growing on cliffs at 2,438 m.'
Although initially a surprise to find Rodgersia in the Saxifragaceae family, once you account for the maxed up scale, the resemblances with several of our National Collection of (European) Saxifraga in the Mountains House is revealed.