These past few weeks have been remarkable for penstemon flowers. It's a good year.
The penstemon pictured here is a Palmer Penstemon (Penstemon palmeri). It is native to many parts of the Western United States, including Nevada, California, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. This is one of the taller penstemons, with its flower stems reaching three and a half feet high. The long lasting soft pink/white, sweet smelling flowers, with their deeper pink stripes and their orange tuffs, look like exotic snapdragons, and are actually sometimes called the 'Pink Wild Snapdragon.' Visitors to the west have have even said the flowers look like tiny orchids. The honey bees and butterflies love them. The wild song birds enjoy the seeds.
This beauty, as well as most penstemon types, is great for erosion control. It loves disturbed and desolate places, and does well in rock gardens and other dry, well drained sites. In a good year -- and this seems to be one -- they can flower from May through July.
Penstemons are great additions to the sun garden. There are many different kinds with as many different colored flowers. From purple, to red, to blue, to violet, pink and white, you can't go wrong with this hardy perennial. We have a wide variety of penstemons this year.