Hummingbirds love penstemon for their tubular flowers containing a deep reserve of nectar. Sadly we grow too few of them because they prefer fast drainage, loose gravelly soil and little water. Many parts of Tsawwassen are ideally suited for this plant.
Most common colours are bright reds like 'Red Riding Hood', pictured, and blues. Specialized perennial nurseries like Phoenix and Free Spirit carry penstemon in soft pink, salmon, deep rose, lilac, deep purple and, rare, yellow.
If you love this plant, but don't have the right conditions, treat it as an annual bedding plant. Or try growing it in a container using a gravelly potting soil sold for cacti. The rupicola variety is an evergreen shrub native to the Cascades. Its bright rose crimson flowers pop in the rock garden, a treasure if you can find it. And it's winter-hardy here.
Editor’s note: This is a weekly column presented by the South Delta Garden Club and hosted online every Tuesday on the Optimist website.