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Genus of about 14 species of herbaceous perennials, in the family Saxifragaceae, native to eastern Asia and North America. They are often grown in gardens for their erect, featherlike flower spikes of white, yellow, pink, magenta, or purple, which rise above clumps of fernlike leaves from mid- to late summer

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      20.01.2001 22:57
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      For anyone looking for a perennial to plant near to a pond, or to fill a shady moist position, Astilbe will suit the situation perfectly. It can be grown in drier conditions,but would require very frequent watering.It will however not thrive as well in such areas and the flowers will be less showy and a lot paler. The flowers, which come in shades of pink, crimson and white,(I personally have never seen purple or yellow ones) are feather like and very effective whilst the leaves are almost fernlike in appearance and are a very pale green. I personally find that planting them next to Euphorbia (which has a dark green foliage) makes them stand out better, although it is important to keep the Euphorbia in check as if left uncontrolled it takes over anything surrounding it. This is a mid to late summer flowering plant, but the leaves show much earlier and are attractive in themselves during late spring/early summer. Astilbes look stunning as part of a fresh flower arrangement, or alternatively retain their shape and colour when dried. The leaves on their own are effective if used in vases with other plants. They can be used as a marginal plant in the pond, and certainly my own plants have done well in this setting,or alternatively they can be used as a mid to back border plant. I personally wouldn't put them in the front of the border as the flowers can grow to a fair sized height. I doubt if it would thrive well in a pot because it would dry out too quickly, but if you have the patience to water regularly and often I don't see why it shouldn't do well here as long as the pot is in a shady situation. Astilbes are easy to propogate by division once the clump has grown big enough. You just dig the clump up and then divide it with a fork and trowel, or just a trowel if you only want a small section. These new propogations can then be planted elsewhere in the garden where required and will soon grow to q
      uite a large sized clump. Astilbes are not invasive however, so they can be planted next to any prized plants without fear that they will choke them. This is a very versatile and hardy plant and <br>for a small initial outlay of around £4.OO or £5.00 you will be rewarded with colurful featherlike flowers in many different aspects of the garden for many years.

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