Dear Todd, in Britain the common name for these wonderful plants is Elephants ears. Obviously due to their huge leaves flopping downwards.
Bergenia cordifolia is often planted in rockeries, although I have seen them growing in many places near where I live. In my many trips around Britain I have also observed them growing in some very obscure places.
It was a much loved plant by the Victorians, and planted in as you say both in sunny and shady areas. It seemed to go out of popularity for some time, as apart from when it is in flower, it was not really a highly prized Garden center plant. However it has made a comeback with the lovely purple and red tinted leaf varieties, that do like sunny positions. The new varieties can also stand drier conditions than Hostas, so are now often substituted for them, as the purple or red leaves are a perfect foil for the larger plants in a border, when Bergenias are used as ground cover!
Whenever there is a village spring fair, you will find Bergenias for sale on the plant stands. People divide them up, and sell them to raise money for charity or the church roof restoration fund etc., these are hardly ever labeled, and if they are are labeled, they are with their common name, or as Bergenia cordifolia. It is only next year or the year after you find out they are a hybrid, sometimes unidentifiable!
Never mind, my wife likes to plant them at the front of her herbaceous border. Where their welcome spring flowers brighten things up!
Dear Neil, if we called Bergenias, 'Elephant Ears', then people here would think we're talking about the plant we grow here that really Does have huge leaves; don't know the real name, but it's a foliage plant, and is grown outdoors here and in other tropical places; looks like a giant Caladium. I think Bergenias are really pretty, and I bet Sarah's garden looks brilliant in the Spring!
Dear Connie, that it is why it is better to use botanical names, then people do not get confused! That is the common name in Britain for them, as alocasia or colocasia would not grow outside here!
I don't think they would somehow like minus 39.95F, mind you I am not keen on that cold either!