Astilbe, False Spirea 'Rhythm and Beat'
Have you ever made a clean getaway from a store or nursery with impossibly good deal?
Very late in last year's gardening season, hubby and I happened into a local Home Depot where there was a large tiered display of perennials marked with a huge sign:
One Dollar! Seriously! Sometimes fall clearance plants at these big box store garden centres can be pretty bedraggled after a summer of intermittent care, but these 2 gallon perennials looked great. Surely some salesclerk had made a mistake with the sign.
I grabbed a shopping cart and frantically started loading it up. Let's see: 4 euonymus, 3 pink hellebores, 2 daylilies, a couple of fancy heuchera, 2 pink astible...
"Woo, woo!", said my panic stricken hubby pointing to our mid-sized Toyota with 3 dogs already filling up the back seat, "Where do you imagine we are going to fit all those plant pots?"
"But how can I pass on such an amazing deal?", I replied pouting a little, "They'll probably be gone if we come back later."
"Fine", he sighed, a poor man long ago resigned to his wife's gardening obsession, "You go pay and I'll shift a few things around in the trunk."
"The sign in the garden centre says these are a dollar.", I insisted defensively to the sales clerk, as I placed the plants up on checkout line.
Twenty dollars later, I wheeled a packed shopping cart out of the store, feeling kind-of like that crazy lady in the Ikea commercial, who looks with disbelief at her sales receipt, and then anxious to make a clean getaway, yells to her husband waiting in the parking lot to "Start the car!"
Amongst my purchases is the Astilbe that you see at the top of this post.
When it comes to Astilbe (Common names: False Spirea, Meadowsweet), I can tell you best what not to do. Don't plant them in dry shade! Been there, done that!
I have a fair collection of Astilbe and by mid-summer, when rainwater is scarce, they are looking pretty worse for ware. To keep them going, I have to water them faithfully. Astilbe actually prefer consistently moist, rich soil.
They are a long-lived perennial that have lovely fern-like foliage (seen along the bottom of this picture). Most varieties have tall, stiff stalks of feathery-soft flowers that come in shades of white, pink and red. There are also varieties whose plume of tiny flowers curves downward. ( See Red, White and Pink Ostrich Plume Astilbe here at Vessey's Seeds.)
I have always thought of them as a half-shade plant, but this summer I saw them flourishing in a fairly sunny spot. In fact, the plants had far more flowers than mine ever do in half-shade and shade.
That leads me to conclude that good, rich soil and sufficient water are the most crucial factors in enjoying good success with Astilbe plants.
Do you concur? What's your experience?
For fun, I will be running through a garden alphabet on Fridays in the weeks to come. Next Friday is B. No idea what I will do for Z , but thankfully that is a long way off!
Have yourself a great weekend!