Penstemon Dark Towers, an Unusual Perennial
June 29, 2010
Allan in Penstemon Dark Towers, Perennial Plants, penstemon, perennials

I live in a Penstemon-deprived part of North America. The only variety that is stocked here is Husker Red. That plant is not suitable for my needs because its flower does not project sufficiently to warrant including it in a garden composition. Last season, one of my suppliers listed a new Penstemon in their catalogue. Named Dark Towers, the specs for the plant indicated a perennial that was more colorful, taller, and longer blooming than Husker Red. I ordered one for my test garden and was pleased with its performance. What I liked about it, especially, was its neat demeanor. It was tall and graceful and, even when the stalks slightly opened their formation in order to worship the sun, the plant maintained its dignity.

Two characteristics that make this plant interesting are the unusual combination of burgundy foliage with pink flowers and the variegation of the flower petals from light pink at the tips to dark pink at the base. The overall impression is understated eye-catching. When this plant is properly combined with other pink-blooming perennials, the effect can be striking.

Dark Tower grows to 3 feet in sun, in any well drained soil, and is hardy from Zone 3 to 8.This rich burgundy-leafed plant produces spikes that carry two-toned bell-shaped pink flowers that bloom June, July and August and it is tolerant of heat, drought and humidity. It makes a great cut flower, attracts butterflies and is deer resistant. The foliage maintains its burgundy color all season and that color will add an interesting character to most garden compositions. This plant may appear mundane when on display at a nursery, and even during its first season of growth. However, by year two, it is transformed in to a majestic plant with a commanding presence.

Article originally appeared on Garden Design, Montreal, Perennial Flower Gardens, Gardening Tips, Gardening Advice, Gardening Book Reviews (
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