Penstemon Midnight Masquerade - Three Planted IB2DWs - October 2023

For the past few years, I've been a 'stick to the plan' gardener.  That plan was a layout/design, but it was also a plan in terms of sticking to plants that I know and understand how they'd perform.  It also was VERY limited on flowers.  I've talked about foliage gardening and thanks to our deep shade yard, I've mostly had foliage plants over the years.

But, this #FallPlanting season, I felt a little moved to step out of my comfort zone and decided to buy a couple of things at the various end-of-season sales including a number of new (to me) flowering perennials. 

The first one that I put in my cart was 'Midnight Masquerade' Penstemom or Beardtongue.  That's the 1# container at the top of this post.   It is a Proven Winner and here's what Walters Garden has to say:

This Penstemon will help fill the gap in your lineup for a taller, attractive foliage option. 'Midnight Masquerade' produces a sturdy clump of deep burgundy purple leaves. The dark color of the foliage is most pronounced in direct UV sunlight. This variety's dark foliage can be enjoyed all season, but in bloom, the overall effect is stunning.

Rich lavender purple flowers have pure white interiors and are produced on dark stems just above the foliage. An improvement on other varieties, this superior selection boasts a fuller, more refined habit, more vibrant flower color, and a more consistent, floriferous flowering performance. A must-have addition to the sun perennial garden!

Like all of our Penstemons, this one takes the heat and humidity in stride but is also very cold hardy. It continues to provide terrific color in the landscape all season long.

Penstemons are very drought tolerant perennials that are easy to grow and are rarely bothered by insects or diseases. Plant them in full sun and watch as hummingbirds feast on their delicious nectar.

Taller with attractive foliage.  

Sturdy, deep burgundy purple leaves.

Stunning.

An improvement on other varieties.

Fuller, more refined habit.

More vibrant flower color.

Takes heat and humidity.

Very cold hardy.

Color in the landscape all season long.

Very Drought Tolerant.

Rarely bothered by insects or diseases.

Hummingbirds feast on their delicious nectar.

I mean...what's NOT to love about all of that, right? 

I wasn't too familiar with Midnight Masquerade, so I pulled up the list from Roy Diblik and Northwind Perennial Farm called their '2023 Appropriate Plant List'.  What do you know...I see Penstemon Digitalis - 'Huskers Red', 'Dark Towers' and 'Pocahontas'.  See below:

Roy Diblik's "Appropriate Plant List" includes a few Penstemon varieties.

Hmmm...Pocahontas and Dark Towers.  I had to look a little deeper on the Web - where I found this patent listing on Google Patents for 'Midnight Masquerade'.  From their patent submission:

The new plant has flowers that are a deeper shade of light purple and the habit is shorter than either ‘Pocahontas’, ‘Blackbeard’ or ‘Dark Towers’. Compared with ‘Dark Towers’ the new plant is more compact and shorter in habit, and slightly shorter and more compact than ‘Blackbeard’. ‘Midnight Masquerade’ is slightly shorter in habit than all of the above plants.

'Deeper shade of purple' with a habit that is 'shorter than either 'Pocahontas' and 'Dark Towers''.  

So...this sounds like a nice improvement over those - so that's good enough for me.

The part about purple leaves and dark foliage is what I was drawn to on the nursery bench.  I've posted a few times about gardening with dark foliage and had it as #16 on my 2022 to-do list:  "Design with dark foliage..."

I've done that in small ways - including some purple Heucheras in 2022.  This year, I added a few new dark-foliage plants including these 'Dark Side of the Moon' Astilbes, a pair of Eiffel Tower Elderberry columnar shrubs and three Japanese Maples - a second Emperor 1, an Inaba Shadire Weeping JM and an unknown laceleaf.  All of that, however, have been in the backyard.

And just this past week, I added two Voodoo Sedums that are dark purple IB2DWS as groundcover and (hopefully) a competitor to the Creeping Jenny. 

As part of my #Fall Planting work, I took a look back at my 2023 to-do list and decided to focus on a few spots - including my front porch bed AND the IB2DWs bed(s).  I have bed(s) plural, because I'm viewing it as two spots - the currently (planted) bed and the wide open one closer to the sidewalk.

I opted to put these in that new bed, after turning over some of the sod.  The three of these are planted in a cluster, near the north property line, about halfway between Bald Cypress and the inherited Hackberry tree at the corner of our property.  


I planted these in with a mix of the native soil and some biosolids.  My plan for the coming weeks is to collect some cardboard and a few loads of biosolids and lay down some sheet-mulching to smother the lawn and create a bed that can be planted next year.  

Below is the Proven Winners tag for Pentstemon Midnight Masquerade - Full Sun.

My Fall Planting List - so far - includes a number of new and divided plants.

23 new plants.  3 new via division.  26 total for 2023 #FallPlanting.

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