More Astilbe plumes are opening in the shade garden now. The white feathery flowers of Astilbe arendsii ‘Diamant’ (diamond astilbe) glow in the shadows, and the pink flowers of Astilbe simplicifolia “Hennie Graafland’ look like spun cotton candy. Astilbe ‘Europa’ started the bloom show with soft pink flowers.
You could plant these astilbe in a sunnier area to get more flowers, but in the coolness of the shadows, with a little mulch around them, the foliage stays healthy without having to quench their thirst constantly. Also, their ability to reflect light is valuable in the shade.
Most of the A. arendsii ‘Diamant’ flower stalks are open now. Their pure white flowers are highly visible from a distance, even at dusk. When I take a look out the window at the garden after sundown, these plumes still reflect the last wisps of light.
Sometimes this plant is marketed as Astilbe ‘Diamond’. It is my tallest astilbe, about 30 cm (1 foot) taller than the pink flowered Astilbe ‘Europa’. Diamant starts blooming a little after Europa, but their flowering times overlap. I wrote more about Europa in a previous post.
After about 3 weeks the flowers gradually turn brown, but they are still interesting. I leave the faded plumes on the plants until next spring.
The leaves are attractive, and look nice combined with the finer textured fronds of ferns, or with broader leaves.
Astilbe simplicifolia ‘Hennie Graafland’ is a medium sized astilbe, about the same height as ‘Europa’. The flowers have darker centres, giving them a brighter, more saturated look than ‘Europa’. The cotton candy plumes on these are just beginning to open from the bottom. In a few days, they will be as fluffy as the other astilbe. Despite being in a medium shady area, getting maybe an hour of direct sun, this perennial gets a good number of plumes. The flowers in the bottom picture are all on one plant, though there are 2 other Hennie Graafland behind in the clump.
The extra glossy, dark green leaves are what I like most about Hennie Graafland. In the shade garden, the shiny foliage is very showy, and contrasts nicely with more matte textured leaves. Since the plumes bloom bright for about 3 weeks, it looks decorative to have the polished looking foliage for the rest of the season.
I always look forward to the astilbe blooms in the shadows, but their attractive foliage is around until frost. They don’t seem to be bothered by any pests or diseases in my garden. This perennial is an excellent plant for the shade, and hardy in zone 3.
Here is some more information and photos about astilbe in this followup post.