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.
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.
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.
IF YOU GO:
"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),
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.
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.
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.
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 Ill have a large selection
of these and many more astilbes for sale. See
the "If You Go" box for more information.