Audrey Enever: Penstemons are American beauties |

Audrey Enever: Penstemons are American beauties

If you go

The Yampa River Botanic Park will be hosting a free event open to the public. Marcela Ferreyra, a biologist and tourism guide, is a respected expert on the high Andean and steppe floras of Patagonia, and Marcela Sanchez, a botanist born in Buenos Aires city, Argentina, will be speaking at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in the Trillium House.

Marcela Ferreyra will speak about the amazing flora diversity of Patagonia. It has much in common with the Flora of the Rockies including genera and occasionally even similar species.

Penstemon varieties

■ Penstemon strictus (Rocky Mountain Penstemon): our local native — blue/purple flowers on 2-foot spikes, blooms June/July, does well in dry stony areas but also thrives in watered beds. Can be easily moved in early spring, very hardy.

■ Penstemon pinifolius (Pineleaf Penstemon): a shrubby plant with fine pine-like leaves, dainty orangey/red flowers that are 10 to 15 inches, blooms July/August. Develops really woody roots, not easy to move.

■ Penstemon digitalis “Husker Red”: Gets to be about 3 feet high, spikes of white flowers with deep red foliage. Blooms in June and July. Very hardy.

■ Penstemon x mexicali “Red Rocks” and Penstemon x mexicali “Pikes Peak Purple”: both durable hybrids that flower for a long period in mid summer, will be about 15 inches or taller, and like full sun to partial shade.

■ Penstemon eatonii (Firecracker Penstemon): 2 to 3 feet tall, spikes with narrow scarlet flowers. Blooms in June/July and likes heat but needs drainage.

■ Penstemon barbatus: native to the Rocky Mountains, this grows to 3 feet with long loose spikes of red flowers. Blooms in June/July. There are many hybrids based on this native which provide varying heights to 3 feet and many colors from pinks to purples.

■ Penstemon hirsutus “Pygmaeus”: Suitable for rock gardens. Eight inches covered with violet flowers over a long period. Good drainage required.

■ Penstemon caespitosus: suitable for rock gardens, native to the sagebrush areas of Northern Colorado — purple flowers on 3 to 6 inches in height, mats of foliage in May/June. Needs sun and good drainage.

■ Penstemon teucrioides: suitable for rock gardens, native to Gunnison Valley — blue/purple flowers on 2 inches high, mats of foliage June/July.