Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Just Grow It-Penstemon 'Dark Towers'

Not too many perennials catch my eye.  Most don't live up to my standards of fairly long bloom time and season long foliage interest.  After witnessing years of under impressive performance by P. 'Husker Red' (before finally shovel pruning it), I was hesitant to try another purple foliage Penstemon.  Being that I'm somewhat of a purple foliage nut and a firm believer that one cannot have too much purple foliage in the garden, I'm always on the lookout for something purple.

On a recommendation from Monique, who has never led me astray, I bought and planted Penstemon 'Dark Towers' last spring.  It was in bloom but I didn't get a good feel for it's flowers.  However, after cutting back the spent flowers I was impressed that the foliage held up all season and remained dark-not at all the experience I had with the muddy dull foliage of 'Husker Red'.


Well the flowers definitely caught my attention this year.  And check out those dark purple stems!  Ooh-la-la!


White Flower Farm lists the bloom time on this plant as July-Aug.  It's blooming now in my garden and was blooming around now when I bought it last year.  Due to a mild winter, most plants are blooming earlier than usual around here but I have a hard time believing this will bloom as late as August.  Plan for 30" of height when in bloom.  Mine is growing in part afternoon sun and doing just fine.


Early indication is you can't go wrong with this plant.  I think it's time I pick up a few more of these bad boys and sprinkle them around other areas of the garden and I suggest you do too!

12 comments:

  1. Sue-if you let this go to seed you'll have tons of babies to work with for free. If they love where they are they get big like yours at least within two seasons. Penstemons are great plants. I started with one plant and now have at least ten good clumps of 'Mystica'.

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  2. oooh love the way the foliage is green going to purple! I love penstemons too!

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  3. I got rid of Husker years ago for the same reasons you describe. This year I picked up P digitalis 'Mystica' from Annies, and it looks remarkably like your Dark Towers.It has been in bloom since April and I am told it will throw up more blooms through the summer.The foliage is great..and I love the red stem thing.

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    1. I'll have to look into 'Mystica'. Especially if Babs is growing it-must be hardy here-not all Penstemons are.

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  4. I still have Husker's Red and enjoy it a great deal though others I know share your thoughts.
    How is it the people can lead me on a plant hunt even "long distance"??? Yes, those dark stems are super, rather like Thalictrum Black Stockings and black stem maidenhair ferns.

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    1. Oooh-Thalictrum 'Black Stockings'. Is the foliage dark too, Marie?

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  5. No, but the height is great and it looks good next to my Black Lace Elderberry.

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  6. I'd love to do some idylling in your garden. That is a fantastic penstemon. I have never seen it before.

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    1. Visitors are always welcome to my garden! I've been enjoying my virtual tour of yours. What a beautiful, tucked away spot!

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  7. Like the other commenters above, I have Husker's Red. I do like it, but thought its modest performance was more due to where I placed it, too hidden among a jumble of other plants. I cleared them out and this is the first year I am enjoying a stand of Husker's Red by itself. Good to know about the relative merits of this one versus your longer bloomer, richer foliaged Dark Towers!

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  8. I cut my Towers down to 6" above grade.... That's what google told me... I think utter was the wrong thing to do... Any advice? It's growing now but pretty wimpy little buds off of the main Woody trunks...

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