I wrote this article last fall, but then never posted it. The Astilbe are starting to get buds now, so I’ll follow up with some photos of how they look this year once they open fully. Here are a few of the moves I made last year with my Astilbe. Back in early autumn I transplanted a number of them to better positions in the garden. Some needed new sites, because they were being overshadowed by neighbouring plants, and others got new flowering partners. I also added some brand new Astilbe to my garden.
The Astilbe japonica ‘Europa’ above is part way through the move, and the rootball is sitting up on the ground. They were getting overshadowed by some ferns and other plants that had grown taller, so the ‘Europa’ were getting almost no sun. Astilbe can handle shade, but too much shade and the blooms dwindle. There were fewer flowers on them last year, and the pink plumes disappeared behind the fern fronds, and couldn’t be seen. I transplanted them to a part shade area that gets more light. The new site will get a few hours of direct sun, and then indirect light for most of the day. In the new location, the pretty ‘Europa’ can be seen better, without the tall ferns in front of them. They also get partnered with some shorter Campanula (bellflowers), so the Astilbe flowers will easily be seen over top of the blue flowers.
The slightly taller Astilbe arendsii ‘Diamont‘ (‘Diamond’), shown in summer, used to be with the ‘Europa, so I dug it up and moved it too. Now it’s next to the ‘Europa’ in the new location and the white flower plumes will show up much better next year. It gets some short blue flowering Campanula companions in front of it, too.
Astilbe ‘Verssilvery Pink’ ( ‘Younique Silvery Pink’) was new to my garden last year. They have beautiful shell pink flowers. The colour is very similar to Astilbe japonica ‘Europa’. Earlier in the summer, while they were waiting to get planted, I had them on my patio in their containers just below a pot with light blue lobelia. The two soft colours of pink and blue looked great together . When it came time to get it in the ground this fall, I put it with some Campanula cochlearifolia and Campanula rotundifolia which have light sky blue flowers, similar in colour to the lobelia. I think the combination will look good when they bloom together next year, with the pink above the blue.
This picture shows the flowers of Astilbe ‘Younique Silvery Pink’ fully open back in summer. You can see the soft, delicate pink colour, and the numerous blooms, but they were still in their pots and flowering based on previous care. It’s supposed to be a very heavy bloomer, but ‘Younique Silvery Pink’ might not get the same number of blooms once it’s in a shady site in my garden.
Here’s another summer picture. Astilbe ‘Verswhite’ (‘Younique White’ ) has been in my garden for two summers now. This cross between A. arendsii and A. japonica blooms with pretty white flowers. It is part of the same series as ‘Younique Silvery pink’. I only had one plant, and it was in an extra shady site, so I’ve transplanted it next to the new ‘Younique Silvery Pink’, so they’ll flower together at the same time.
‘Younique White’ has bright red stems, that show especially well when the shafts of sunlight filter through the branches. This photo shows the companion plants to ‘Younique White’ in its old spot. There was a Hosta ‘Francee’ to one side, some Brunnera in front, some Athyrium filix-femina (lady fern) behind, and some Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern) to the other side. The sensitive fern is long gone, as it retreats with the slightest hint of cold.
This summer view in the other direction showed the birdbath on the other side, short Asarum europaeum (European ginger) in front, more Brunnera after that, and some Matteuccia struthiopteris (ostrich fern) behind the birdbath. There are a few of the Hosta ‘Patriot’ leaves showing behind the birdbath. I actually liked the way it looked with the surrounding perennials, but I think it will be more effective as part of the larger group of ‘Younique Silvery Pink’.
Astilbe ‘Mighty Pip’ is another new Astilbe. They are supposed to be one of the tallest Astilbe, so I planted them where the shorter Astilbe used to be. They should be able to compete with the taller ferns for light. ‘Mighty Pip’ will get darker pink flowers. There are some Athyrium filix-femina ‘Lady In Red’ (lady ferns) in front of them, some Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot) to one side, and a Hosta ‘Francee’ to the other side.
This photo of Athyrium filix-femina ‘Lady In Red’ shows the way that sunlight highlights the fiery stem colour. Even though the ‘Lady In Red’ ferns are getting taller, I want to keep them at the front of the garden, as they have nice red stems that look good against the green fronds. I don’t want to hide the stems behind other plants, because when the sun shines through in the evening at a low angle, I can see them lit up from my kitchen window. That’s why the Astilbe got transplanted instead.
I gave these Astilbe transplants lots of water after moving, and for a few weeks afterwards to help them adjust. A couple started getting crispy leaves as Astilbe will do if they dry out, but they should be fine next year. The only Astilbe that didn’t get moved were my ‘Hennie Graafland’.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the Astilbe look in their new locations. With their feathery foliage, they look good next to broad leaved plants like Hosta or Brunnera. Then when the soft Astilbe flower plumes appear, I think they should partner well with the blue Campanula.