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Penstemons have long been a favourite in our gardens with their stunning bell shaped flowers, particularly for those of us that garden in the cottage style.  They could however be a little temperamental.  The Pensham series of Penstemons were originally bred by the late renowned plant breeder Edward Wilson in Pensham in Worcestershire. He bred into these wonderful perennials some very desireable attributes, some of which I have tried to list below:-

  1. The plants are tougher than previous varieties with amazing stamina
  2. They thrive in both rainy summers or droughts and are very well suited to our U.K. climate. They are hardy and easy to grow.
  3. They relentlessly bloom for around five months of the year.
  4. They are resistant to slug damage
  5. They have semi-evergreen foliage.
  6. With a height of around 90cm (36in) and a spread of around 45cm (18in), these varieties are suited to our patio containers aswell as our borders. Although more compact than many varieties, they still add height to our planting.

Young plants should be potted up and grown on somewhere frost free until they are large enough to be hardened off over seven to ten days to withstand outdoor conditions.  Whilst young, plants should be pinched out to encourage bushier growth.  They prefer well drained soil in sun or semi shade. If your soil is very heavy, improve drainage with grit before planting. Water and feed throughout the growing season and deadhead faded blooms to encourage reblooming. Mulching in colder areas will improve hardiness.  Leave the foliage intact throughout winter to provide protection to the plant. They can be cut back in spring.

To view the varieties pictured above at Thompson & Morgan click here

Mark Snelling

Images copyright Thompson & Morgan

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