In a small but significant step forward in border penstemons, Penstemon Dakota Burgundy (‘Tnpendb’) brings gardeners four significant features.
First of all, Dakota Burgundy is not only hardy but this form of P. digitalis is exceptionally frost tolerant and will take winter temperatures of -40°C (-40°F)! So it’s easy to grow anywhere in the country in conditions that are not waterlogged.
Its foliage is crimson bronze in the shoot tips, maturing to green with dark veins in moist or slightly shaded conditions – but the whole plant is richer and darker in colour in drier and more open situations.
The flowers are the familiar open tubes but produced in large numbers from June with up to about a hundred flowers in each head. Each flower is just over 3cm in length, larger than most varieties of this species, and opens lavender blue and pales as it ages. The flowers are followed by dark seed heads which can be cut and dried.
Not only is Dakota Burgundy shorter than other varieties of this type, at 55cm (22in), but the feature that will ensure its wider take up in garden centres as well as mail order suppliers is that the plant develops a mass of foliage in pots before the flowering stems emerge. This means that it’s easier to pack as a mail order plant and more plants will fit on the trolley for delivery to garden centres where it looks good long before flowers stems start to stretch.
Penstemon Dakota Burgundy was developed at Terra Nova Nurseries in Oregon, USA, by plant breeder Harini Korlipara. It’s more compact and has darker, more violet-tinged flowers than both ‘Dark Towers’ and ‘Mystica’.
Chuck Pavlich of Terra Nova Nurseries summarised the appeal and noted a green-leaved companion in the series. He told Floral Daily: “Dakota Burgundy has deep burgundy-purple foliage with light purple flowers and as summer approaches, the fat flower spikes expand and add value to this uber-hardy series."
You can pre-order Penstemon Dakota Burgundy (‘Tnprmdb’) from Hayloft Plants.
*Please note, the contents of this blog reflect the views of its author, which are not necessarily those of the RHS.