A River of Penstemon

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Broad-leaved Penstemon

There’s nothing like planting a mass of the same plant to create a big impact in the garden. This is part of a “river” of broad-leaved penstemon (Penstemon ovatus) with Douglas’s Iris (Iris douglasiana), which we planted last year in our new mostly-native garden near the front of the studio.

Broad-leaved Penstemon

Broad-leaved penstemon is native to the Pacific Northwest, including having been reported for Whatcom County although it’s much more likely to be seen in the Columbia Gorge than around Bellingham. I got a couple of seedlings from a gardening acquaintance in Walla Walla a few years ago. We initially planted them in a bed around our back patio, where they thrived. A couple of years ago Natalie spread seed in a nursery bed and we got hundreds of seedlings, which then got transplanted into their current home out front.

This species grows nearly 2 feet tall and is covered with deep blue flowers that the bees and hummingbirds love.

Douglas’s Iris is another PNW native, found in the wild along the central and southern Oregon coast. It’s fairly commonly available as a garden plant, including hybrids in a wide range of colors. The ones we planted look like the species.

Broad-leaved Penstemon

We’re frugal gardeners, which means that we trade our patience growing plants from seed or small starts for the cost of buying more mature plants.

Newly-planted Broad-leaved Penstemon

This is what our “penstemon river” looked like shortly after it was planted in early June, 2017. What a difference a year makes!

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