Lauren’s Grape Poppy and Dark Towers Penstemon

– Posted in: Flowers on the Brain, What's up/blooming

A match made in heaven to be enjoyed on earth.

A match made in heaven to be enjoyed on earth.

On July 26, 2009, I walked outside and saw a sight that made me gasp and clasp my hands over my heart. It was one of those moments where you thank God you have the privilege of gardening on this piece of earth, and that you listened to that inner prompt that said, “Sprinkle those poppy seeds here.” I suppose that sounds like a histrionic cliche, but the fact is there are certain garden vignettes that I find profoundly moving.

I purchased one ‘Dark Towers’ penstemon from Dutch Gardens, not knowing I’d receive a trial plant of the same from Terra Nova Nurseries a couple weeks later. Last year both remained rosettes of dark purple foliage and didn’t bloom, so when I sowed the seeds of ‘Lauren’s Grape’ poppy around them (a sample from Botanical Interests), I just had this vague idea that the poppies would “go” with the penstemon.

The poppy and the penstemon complement each other on many levels.

The poppy and the penstemon complement each other on many levels.

It turns out they complement each other on many levels. The lighter parts of the poppy’s petals pick up the dark base of each penstemon flower, while the darker color at the base of each poppy bloom echoes the deep purple-plum of the penstemon foliage. And the celadon foliage of the poppy complements that of the penstemon, as well as its own poppy petals.

I still go out at least once a day to look at that combination in wonder and gratitude. The only flaw in this arrangement is that the penstemon was almost done blooming by the time the first poppies opened. However, I sowed the poppies rather late, so perhaps they will be more in sync next year.

One can hope.

Further Reading

Plant patent for ‘Dark Towers’ penstemon

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

When dealing with frost it is always best to be paranoid. In the spring never think it is too late for one more frost to come. And in the fall never think it too early.

~Rundy in Frost

Comments on this entry are closed.

MNGarden May 15, 2010, 7:34 pm

I purchased a Dark Towers penstemon today and I’m glad I did.
.-= MNGarden´s last blog ..Happy Motherโ€™s Day =-.

Jennifer Cote September 18, 2009, 11:31 pm

I was glad to see your website pop right up when I googled “dark purple poppy”. I’ve been growing the Lauren’s Grape variety for several years now, and thought of giving some of the seeds to my friends/relatives in colder states. I guess they grow in places besides here on the California coast- good to know! Love your pictures ๐Ÿ™‚

Kylee from Our Little Acre August 24, 2009, 4:39 pm

So beautiful! I too planted ‘Lauren’s Grape’ poppy seeds from Botanical Interests, but got MUCH smaller blooms and they weren’t very dark. More of a medium plum color. The flowers themselves weren’t much more than an inch or so across. I planted them early, and they germinated well, so I expected a good “crop” but was disappointed. I may try again next year, because I was so taken with the photos of them. Glad you had such good success!
.-= Kylee from Our Little Acre´s last blog ..Where Did All the Zucchini Go? =-.

kerri August 12, 2009, 1:43 pm

Kathy, I came to read about the blight, but this is much more pleasant subject matter ๐Ÿ™‚
What a wonderful combination! These two plants are being added to my wish list as we speak….
Thanks for sharing your feelings over this happy surprise with us. I think we can all understand those moments well ๐Ÿ™‚
.-= kerri´s last blog ..Daylily Delight =-.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter August 10, 2009, 6:42 pm

That is a fantastic combination. I have a packet of Lauren’s Grape waiting to be sown & 3 baby Penstemon ‘Dark Towers.’ Hopefully next year, a bit of your garden will be found in mine.
.-= Mr. McGregor’s Daughter´s last blog ..Whaddaya Think This Is, A Wildlife Sanctuary? =-.

Patsybell August 10, 2009, 9:14 am

this is like a photographic poem. Every once in awhile it all comes together, sort of like a floral blessing. It’s a beautiful combination and a great photo.
.-= Patsybell´s last blog ..Up On The Roof =-.

MA August 9, 2009, 10:05 pm

What the heck?. I lost my last comment. Anyway, I love that combo. Going to order some of those seeds straight away!
.-= MA´s last blog ..Friends? Gardeners? Anyone out there? =-.

MA August 9, 2009, 10:03 pm

That is wonderful! OK, I am ordering some Lauren’s Grape seeds from Botanical I. I have been trying to get a purple poppy established here for 4 years. Perfect combo!
.-= MA´s last blog ..Friends? Gardeners? Anyone out there? =-.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens August 9, 2009, 9:44 pm

Wow, that is a great combo!
.-= Carol, May Dreams Gardens´s last blog ..Letters to Gardening Friends, August 9, 2009 =-.

Sue August 9, 2009, 9:30 pm

I read this earlier in the day, and am just now back to leave my comment, unless, that is, I left one before, and you have comment moderation. I am pretty scatterbrained. That is a nice combination. Even the foliage on the plants add to the nice combination.
.-= Sue´s last blog ..Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate =-.

Kathy Purdy August 9, 2009, 9:33 pm

Sue, I have it set to moderate new visitors only. You are one of my faithful commenters, so you won’t be moderated until you change your email or name. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

michelle August 9, 2009, 5:56 pm

love the poppy. i think i have seed. better plant it.
.-= michelle´s last blog ..Gourmet Garlic =-.

Tatyana August 9, 2009, 5:36 pm

It is wonderful! What is more important – you don’t see this combination often (actually, I’ve never seen it before). It is new, different, it’s a lovely surprise. You should be proud of yourself Kathy!
.-= Tatyana´s last blog ..Better Than Growing Vegetables =-.

Lynn August 9, 2009, 5:19 pm

Beautiful! I totally get it! Your poppies were a touch later than mine, but I also planted late. They were Botanical Interests “Hungarian Blue”, and close in color to yours. Also close–but not that close–to Penstemon “Husker Red.” Nice when those happy accidents occur.
.-= Lynn´s last blog ..all full up on garlic =-.

Linda Lehmusvirta August 9, 2009, 4:51 pm

Agree, so lovely. Want some! But mine will have to wait until spring.

So nice to enjoy them right this minute in your garden!
.-= Linda Lehmusvirta´s last blog ..From Linda: August 6, 2009 =-.

Cindy, MCOK August 9, 2009, 4:13 pm

Oh, that is drop dead gorgeous, indeed! I like the Nicotiana with it, too.
.-= Cindy, MCOK´s last blog ..RePeat =-.

Ilona August 9, 2009, 2:11 pm

Fantastic! Really like this- it reminds me of some of the Penelope Hobhouse combinations that I like so well.
.-= Ilona´s last blog ..My Chores And Prairiefire Crabapple =-.