Astilbes are excellent for damp spots in dappled shade. While they will tolerate lots of microclimates, they are at their best where the soil doesn’t dry out too much. Their foliage is delicate, almost fern-like and often glossy. Their flowers, during the early to mid summer, come in a terrific range of whites creams, pinks, reds and purples. The chinensis group have some good tall-growing varieties and ‘Purplelanze’ (or ‘Purple Lance’) is an excellent example and a favourite of plantsman Piet Oudolf. A strong plant, sending up delicious spikes of deep warm purple pink flowers. Good for heavy clay soils. Cut back to the ground in spring and apply a generous layer of mulch.