by David Salman
I spend a great deal of time evaluating and breeding new plants for High Country Gardens. But some of my favorite introductions have been by chance.
Penstemon barbatus 'Schooley's Coral' originated as single plant I discovered at Santa Fe Greenhouses about 10 or so years ago. I believe it is the result of an unplanned cross between Penst. barbatus 'Elfin Pink' and Penstemon barbatus 'Schooley's Yellow' which I was also growing at the time.
'Schooley's Yellow' was discovered by Mrs. Schooley, a school teacher from Las Vegas, NM. She found the plant growing in the Sangre de Cristo mountains west of town. While this discovery was a wonderful color breakthrough for this species, the plant itself was not particularly garden-worthy as it was a bit of a weak grower and very susceptible to powdery mildew.
A year or so after the last of my Schooley's Yellow plants had died, I found a lone blooming volunteer seedling with a unique flower color in one of my pots. I began to evaluate it and propagate some additional plants from cuttings. I loved this plant's flower color; yellow buds turning pink before fully opening to coral pink. It also inherited 'Elfin Pink's excellent garden performance.
So I began propagating the newly named 'Schooley's Coral' in earnest. After 3 or 4 years I had sufficient numbers to begin selling it in 2006.
Plant this wonderful Penstemon in a location with infertile, well drained soil in full sun. Keep it deadheaded to maintain it's vigor (seedling will most likely not be the same wonderful color) and keep the plant blooming through the summer.