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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

Penstemon 'Margarita BOP': New from Hayloft Plants

Posted by Graham Rice on 05 Apr 2011 at 12:24 PM

Penstemon,Margarita BOP,Las Pilitas Nursery. Image used with permission of www.laspilitas.com (all rights reserved) Hayloft Plants are well known for their comprehensive penstemon collections but the vast majority of them have been raised close to their Worcestershire nursery. Now, they’ve introduced a prolific, but more dwarf, and more spreading variety discovered in California.

Penstemon 'Margarita BOP' reaches 18-14in/45-60cm in height, with a similar spread, and from late spring into late autumn is covered with spikes of sky blue flowers which take on more purplish tones as they mature. It’s ideal in gravel, or tumbling down a low bank or over a low wall.

It was found in the early 1980s by Bert Wilson of California’s Las Pilitas Nursery, the name 'Margarita BOP' is a combination of "Margarita" in reference to Santa Margarita, California, where Las Pilitas Nursery is located, and the acronym BOP for "Bottom Of Porch", where the chance seedling was discovered.

On his nursery’s website Bert Wilson explains: “It is a hybrid between Penstemon heterophyllus and Penstemon laetus. Every year it would flower and be gorgeous, clear sky blue, fading to purple, at the bottom of our front porch. We've never watered it nor maintained it. Every year we talked about how beautiful, neat, clean it was. The bicycles, skateboards and dogs had run over it tens of times but it still looked good at the Bottom Of the Porch, it still looked young after 7-10 years.”

The original plant only died, after 14-18 years, when it was covered in 2in/5cm of cement during renovations!

Happy in any sunny and well-drained site, this is a remarkably tough plant. It’s drought and heat tolerant, but also hardy down to -12C/10F. If it can take these conditions at Las Pilitas Nursery, between San Francisco and Los Angeles, it will thrive in Britain as long as the soil is not too wet.

You can order Penstemon 'Margarita BOP' from Hayloft Plants.

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