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In bloom at Botanica: astilbe

Botanical name: Astilbe chinensis "Purple Cats"

Location: Water Well Garden

Description: Astilbes are mainstays in the shade or woodland garden. They are clump-forming perennials with graceful, fern-like mounds of dark green leaves. "Purple Cats" is a tall upright cultivar that forms a 2-foot-tall foliage mound. Dark violet-red poker-like flowers in thick panicles bloom in early summer atop branching stems rising to 30 inches tall. The flower color softens to lighter shades of purple with age.

Growing tips: Grows best in well-drained soil in part to full shade. Prefers moist, organically rich soil. Do not allow the soil to dry out. Divide clumps every three to four years.

History: Displayed at Botanica since 2003.

Uses: An excellent spreading ground cover or border plant. Mass or group in shade gardens, woodland gardens or other shady areas.

Also blooming: Roses, wildflowers, hydrangeas, daylilies, clematis, water lilies, annuals and many other perennials.