All About Gardening and Gardening Q & A by Pernell Gerver

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"Growing the Many Different Types of Astilbes"

It's always nice to find a perennial that offers many different variations. One such perennial is astilbe. There are many different types of astilbes that offer a bloom period from late spring to fall. By growing some of each type of astilbe, it's possible to enjoy their colorful flowers all season long.

Astilbes are versatile perennials that form handsome clumps in the garden. They grow well in part sun to deep shade, are available in a range of plant sizes from six inches tall to four feet tall, and have an extensive range of flower colors including white, red, purple, lilac, lavender, rose, salmon, and pink. Even after the flowers have faded, the seed heads remain attractive in the garden. I don't cut them down in fall, but leave them to provide winter interest. They are especially attractive after a light dusting of snow. The foliage of astilbes is attractive all season long. It's finely cut and ranges from bright green to deep bronze, depending on variety. The foliage is glossy on some types.

Astilbe 'Deutschland'The arendsii types of astilbes are the first to bloom in late spring. They bear upright, airy plumes of flowers that stand above a clump of finely-divided green foliage. The flower plumes range in size from a foot and a half tall up to 32 inches tall. A wide range of flower colors includes pink, red, lavender, and lilac. 'Deutschland' is a white-flowered variety that bears pure-white plumes that are two feet tall.

Astilbe chinensis 'Visions in Pink'The chinensis species of astilbes are the next type of astilbes to bloom. They begin blooming in summer and have a long bloom period that lasts into late summer. The flower plumes of this astilbe are more dense and tight than the arendsii types, but can grow just as tall. The foliage of the chinensis types is deeply cut and is deep green to bronze green. The variety 'Visions in Pink' has dense flower plumes that are deep-rose-pink in bud that open soft pink. The flowers are held above deep-glossy-green foliage and grow to two feet high.



"Growing the Many Different Types of Astilbes" Workshop and Plant and Gardening Products Sale


Tuesday, June 10, 6:30 p.m., Westfield Athenaeum (Library) committee room, 6 Elm Street, Westfield, MA

Wednesday, June 11, 7 p.m., Ansuntuck Community College L.R.C. conference room, 170 Elm Street (Route 220), Enfield, CT

Thursday, June 12, 7 p.m., Kiley Middle School auditorium, 180 Cooley Street, Springfield, MA

Saturday, June 14, 3 p.m., Historic Northampton Museum Parsons House, 58 Bridge Street, Northampton, MA


Free and open to the public

For more info.:

Click here to read Pernell Gerver's Gardening Workshop Series schedule and to get directions from your location to any of the locations listed above.

Astilbe 'Sprite'The simplicifolia species of astilbe is one of the smaller types of astilbe with plants that generally grow from under a foot tall to 18 inches tall. The foliage on this species is very ornamental. It's very-finely divided and forms a compact mound. Foliage color ranges from medium green to bronze. The glossy foliage is the perfect complement to the colorful flower plumes that stand just above. The flowers are slender and airy and bloom in a range of colors including white, pink, rose, pink, and salmon. The variety 'Sprite' is one of my favorites of this type. Its airy flowers are deep pink in bud and open pale pink. The flowers contrast nicely with the deeply-cut, lacy, bronze-green foliage. It begins blooming in midsummer and remains colorful into late summer.

Astilbe x crispa 'Perkeo'Astilbe x crispa is the smallest with plants that seldom grow taller than a foot high. The tightly-held foliage forms a small, tidy clump above which rise dense flower plumes. The variety 'Perkeo' bears dark-rose flower plumes that stand just above a clump of dark-green foliage.

The thunbergia species of astilbe is the largest of the astibles with flower stems that can reach 40 inches high. It forms large, impressive clumps and its flower plumes stand high above the foliage. The foliage is generally medium green and finely divided. One of the most striking varieties is 'Ostrich Plume.' Instead of upright plumes, it bears graceful, arching flowers. The flowers are deep-rosy-pink in bud that open pale pink. It begins blooming in midsummer and is in bloom for weeks. The seed heads remain attractive well into winter on this attractive astilbe.

At my free gardening workshop this week I’ll have a large selection of these and many more astilbes for sale. See the "If You Go" box for more information.

Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

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