Astilbes are usually associated with the herbaceous border – 3 ft high plants bearing feathery plumes of flowers in summer. There are also a number of dainty miniatures which grow less than 1 ft tall – choose one if you have a small neat bed or a cool and damp spot in the rockery to fill. They bloom in midsummer when so many other alpines have passed their flowering season and their miniature ostrich plumes make a pleasant change from the usual flower form of rockery perennials. Remember, however, their need for moisture – they will -fail in dry conditions.

VARIETIES: One of the most popular rockery Astilbes is A. chinensis pumila – height 9 in., spread 1 ft.

Flowering period: July-October. The flowers are pink – for other colours choose a named variety of A. crispa. The baby of the family is A. glaberrima (height 5 in., spread 5 in., pink and cream flowers in June and July).

SITE AND SOIL: Requires moist soil – thrives in light shade. PROPAGATION: Divide clumps in spring.

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