Archive for November, 2008
Name of penstemon species: heterophyllus
Person reporting: Barbara Lewis
Garden location: near Denver, CO, 1 miles from the south Platte River
Garden conditions: Zone 5; soil is alluvial and fairly porous; annual rainfall about 14”
After germinating heterophyllus at 70 degrees indoors in early 2007, the seedlings were transplanted (lined out) outside in late March to a somewhat protected outdoor environment. Heterophyllus thrived and bloomed that first year. The plants were beautiful in bloom, with lovely brilliant lavender flowers distributed generously on a graceful, airy, semi-shrub plants which were about 18” tall and in a vase shape.
During that first summer, P. heterophyllus promised to be a prime garden subject; however there was a question about its ability to winter-over because it is native to a warmer climate — the coastal foothills in California from Humboldt County to San Diego. However, because Lindgren and Wilde reported it tolerated temperatures as low as -15° I had a measure of hope.
Heterophyllus seedlings also would need to survive the spring transplanting in 08 (fall transplanting had proven challenging in my garden) . Spring of 2008 arrived in March, cool and damp well into April. Happily, despite winter temperatures as low as -20°F, and only intermittent snow cover, heterophyllus not only survived but looked wonderful in March. Five plants were transplanted in late March, two to imported soil of top soil mixed with squeege (various sized small pebbles) and coarse sand, two also into imported soil, but in shade for a half day and the fifth placed in native soil at the base of a low rock wall serving as a raised bed. The last three plants were watered using soaker hoses; the other two, located on an artificial berm, were hand watered almost daily all spring and through an extremely dry and hot summer. It was not unusual for the plant at the base of the low rock wall to receive almost twice what the others got. Despite these differences, all the plants grew well, thrived and bloomed generously. The two planted in full sun, placed atop an artificial berm, grew taller than the other three.
Garden display: I believe the plants show best when planted in groups of at least two. The plants will show well almost anywhere, including in a border, large rock garden, or wild garden.
It is now late September, 2008 and heterophyllus has been blooming continuously for well over two months. What better garden plant could a gardener want? And, if the truth be told, I secretly call her “princess.”