After five years of trying to get a Colorado foothills garden going, I have discovered how much I LOVE Penstemons!
First of all, I have a very early blooming native, I believe it is Penstemon buckleyi, that volunteers as one of the earliest blooms in my garden!
Then I started some Penstemon Strictus (Rocky Mountain Penstemon) four years ago and look at them now! They also bloom quite early, in mid-May. They spread nicely too!
This year I bought two new versions that are supposed to be red. My garden is almost all purple at this point in time.
Amazingly, the Red Riding Hood variety (Schmidel?) is already in full bloom!
I also bought two Penstemon pinifolius and put them in. According to my book exclusively on Penstemons, “Penstemon pinifolius is an attractive low-growing evergreen plant with showy, scarlet flowers in June to August.” Mine are just tiny this year. I hope they bloom next year!
My point is that these are the kind of plants to grow here because they are natives! The critters don’t eat them (at least not so far…). They spread nicely and fill up their space by a foot or two, and they love it here!