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For instant colour, plant some penstemons today and you’ll be enjoying their blooms until the first frost

A favourite of nectar-collecting bees, this perennial is available in a wide range of shades

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The bell-shaped blooms of the penstemon

The bell-shaped blooms of the penstemon

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The bell-shaped blooms of the penstemon

When I am asked to recommend a long-flowering perennial, penstemon is one of my top picks. Its tall spires of bell-shaped flowers look a bit like a foxglove, and when foxgloves start to go to seed around early July, penstemons pick up the baton and flower away until late autumn. It’s related to the foxglove, and bees love to burrow away for nectar in the tubular flowers.

Also known as beardtongues, penstemons hail, in the main, from the United States. Enthusiasts over there are called Penstemaniacs, and they gather every year to spot penstemons growing wild in their native habitats.


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