PLANT OF THE WEEK
Penstemon 'Dark Tower'
WHY YOU SHOULD PLANT IT
A splendid plant that seems to have materialized in massive quantities this year after its first appearance in 2008, Penstemon 'Dark Tower' has lush purple-tinged foliage that offers enough reason to plant it, but it also boasts intense magenta/pink blooms during the summer for a supply of great cut flowers.
WHERE TO PLANT IT
In as sunny a spot as your garden affords. Plant it in groups of three and you'll have large compact mounds that will bounce joyously in the slightest breeze. It needs good drainage, will put up with almost any kind of soil and grows from 60 to 90 centimetres high and about 45 to 60 centimetres wide (that last quality should be taken seriously – i.e., don't crowd it).
WHAT IT OFFERS
A glorious, relaxed specimen that attracts butterflies and repels rabbits all at one go, P. 'Dark Tower' fits in gorgeously among other plants with purplish foliage, such as Heuchera 'Black Out.' It sounds perfect, right? Well, it's close, but don't try growing it in a semi-shady spot, as it will disappoint, flopping and sulking without at least six hours of sun.
SOURCE AND COST
Pick up four-inch pots for $6 each at nurseries including Mason House Gardens (www.masonhousegardens.com) in Uxbridge, Ont. – Marjorie Harris
Visit www.marjorieharris.com for more plant and gardening information.