Photo: gailf548 (flickr)
The shade gardener can become adept in the juxtaposition of green plants in a bed to create variety. However, in addition to compositions with a green theme, we often yearn for perennial shade plants that flower in different colors. Fortunately, there are many members of the genus “Astilbe” that can provide white, pink and reddish-pink blooms in shade, or sun if they have ample moisture.
They dislike drought, but otherwise are rugged and pest-free. Some species are known by the common name “Goat’s beard.” They form graceful mounds of ferny leaves and throw-up elegant branched flower spikes.
“Bridal Veil” is an aptly named white astilbe and “Finale” which blooms in August is a pretty light pink like cotton candy. But there are lots of shades of pink through dark maroon and if you plant many varieties you can enjoy a succession of bloom from early to late summer.
You can use them in a vase if you cut them when they are half open.
You may want to plant only one color to create a frothy mass of bloom or you can mix and match.
The spires provide height among other low growing foliage plants, so single plants can be repeated for continuity or multiples can be clumped as focal points. In 1901 Helen Wilson wrote about her garden bed as being a village of plants with an astilbe flower as the church steeple.