Some soft plumes waving above finely cut foliage are just what the shade garden needs after many of the other plants have quieted down. The eye-catching Astilbe are blooming, and enliven this area of the garden. These are hardy perennials that take a fair amount of shade, but enjoy a good amount of moisture too. Astilbe arendsii ‘Diamant’ and Astilbe ‘Europa’ bloom at the same time in white and pink.
These are the white flowers of Astilbe arendsii ‘Diamant’ (Diamond astilbe). The flower plumes are a bright white, giving off a nice glow in the shade. ‘Diamant’ is about 75 cm (30 inches) tall, a little taller than my Astilbe ‘Europa’ that you can see as shorter pink plumes in the background and to the side.
Here are the flowers of Astilbe arendsii ‘Diamant’ just as they start to open. The top buds are still green. The bottom of the plume opens first, and then gradually the whole flower stem opens to a feathery plume.
These are the flowers of ‘Diamant’ as they are halfway open, with the bottom half fluffy, the top buds still to open. I especially like these in front of a green backdrop of foliage.
The soft pink of Astilbe ‘Europa’ is one of my favourite Astilbe colours. It blends beautifully with many other soft colours. They look especially nice next to the white ‘Diamant’. ‘Europa’ is about 45 cm (18 inches) tall. The feathery flowers of this perennial look light and airy in the shade garden.
In the above photo, the bottom of the ‘Europa’ flower plumes are just beginning to open, and show a little pink.
Growing the Astilbe in medium shade with some mulch cover helps theses plants conserve moisture, so they don’t end up with browning foliage. They might have a few less flowers in medium shade, but the foliage stays healthy. With our cooler summers the foliage lasts right into the fall.
This picture show shows how frothy the ‘Europa’ plumes are. The Astilbe flowers may only last for three weeks, but they bring a delightful lightness to the shade when they open. After they fade and turn brown, I leave the flower heads of this perennial on for the winter. They are one of the more decorative looking plants, until spring comes again.
Both of these Astilbe are wonderful additions to the shade garden, with their frothy blooms and light colours. My Astilbe simplicifolia ‘Hennie Graafland’ are still at the bud stage, and will show their pink blooms in a few weeks. You can see more photos of Astilbe and their companion plants.
Do you have a favourite Astilbe?