Penstemon 'Pensham Laura' (Pensham Series)
- Position: full sun or partial shade
- Soil: fertile, well-drained soil
- Rate of growth: average
- Flowering period: July to October
- Flower colour: white with a pink flush
- Hardiness: frost hardy (will need winter protection in cold areas)
Each white trumpet-shaped flower flares out at the base, where it's lobed edges are coloured a vibrant lipstick pink. This creates a distictive, two-tone effect. The flowers form in loose clusters on upright stems, which open from the base upwards over a long period from midsummer. A prolific flowerer, it is hardier than many other penstemons and is even said to be resistant to slug damage. The pretty colouring of the flowers means it blends easily with many other shades, but it looks particularly good with deeper pinks, lilac and purple.
- Garden care: Remove the faded blooms regularly to prolong flowering. Apply a dry mulch around the base of the plant to protect the roots from frost damage and cut back in spring when new shoots appear low down on the stem. Lift and divide congested clumps in spring.
- Try taking cuttings in July and early August. Fill a small seed tray with coarse horticultural sand and water it well. Take the cuttings in the cool of the day, choosing non-flowering side shoots about two inches (5cm) in length. If there are flower buds, pick them off. Trim the cuttings below a node (where the leaf joint is) and remove or reduce any large leaves to lessen transpiration. Plunge them into the sand so that two-thirds of the cutting is submerged and place the tray in a cool, shady position for several weeks. Then pot up individually into compost, such as John Innes no 1. You can also leave your cuttings in situ until next spring, although they will need protection from frost.
The traditional cottage garden was an intensive, yet carefree mixture of fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers all crowded into a tiny space. Today, this informal charm can be recreated using modern varieties that largely take care of themselves around anRead full article