Following a Bee – Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’


Off on the forage… hum … we got Salvia here, but it is filled with bees and all kinds of flies. Maybe save that for another post all about the plant after all, Salvia really is a bee magnet.


Salvia x sylvestris ‘Snow Hill’

Looks good though, let’s fly on in.


Leaf Cutter Bee?

What might be a plant I would enjoy that the big bumblebees and honeybees can’t squeeze into? Just guessing here, but a plant I can have all to myself. Oh yum, Penstemon.


Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’

Not another bee in sight, but I hear this native (almost, it is a named cultivar) pulls in the butterflies and hummingbirds. None of them today. I have seen the Skippers at this juice bar though.


Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’

In for a soft landing on the tubular flower. Hey look, they seeded themselves and baby Penstemon are growing all over the place.


Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’

They even survive wet winters and hot, humid summers, plus an added bonus, clay soil, dry soil, and pesky deer. My kind of plant, always at the ready. Did you know Penstemon is called beard tongue because the sterile stamen has a pillow of small hairs. Soft and cushy. Focus, I’ve got work to do here.


Now, all I have to do is wiggle myself inside.


Almost there…


Tight squeeze. Heck, it looks bigger than it is. Made it!


Yep, mighty tasty and mighty tight. Backing on out…


Refreshing. But now I have to do something about my hair which is all flattened. Tidy up before…

beePenstemon7Off to the next sipping bar.


Love those red leaves… oh, wait. I can’t tell red from green! Tip, the leaves stay more red in partial shade, like those in the back garden. Bees know best!

The next post looks at the Salvia in this post and tells why it is a good garden plant.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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61 Responses to Following a Bee – Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’

  1. shoe1000 says:

    Thank you so much for the wonderful journey

  2. Very cute post. I know Husker Red has been around for a while but suddenly I am seeing it everywhere and really liking it. I need to find a place for it in my garden. Maybe those nonnative bearded irises that always flop will have to go. I don’t think it’s a hybrid between two species but rather a cultivar from the native species P. digitalis. It was probably directly selected from the wild population so its native qualities are not compromised.

  3. John Hric says:

    Very nice. I especially like the shots of the bees in flight !

  4. Nancy F. says:

    Hi! Just sitting here on an early, drizzly Sunday morn…totally enjoying your photos & comments. Thank you!!!

  5. Patty says:

    That bee has great taste in flowers. I love the penstemon Huskers Red too, but alas, lost two of them over this past winter – Why oh why?

    • Could be too wet in the garden? They take moist locations, but if it remains too wet for too long, like in winter in our area, losses could occur. I lost Scabiosa, Butterfly Blue right next to the Penstemon this year. Lucky I divided it last year and have two young starts. I am not sure what happened to the Scabiosa since rabbits are not fond of it. It was a big plant too. Many of my asters disappeared, but I attribute that to the rabbits.

  6. Graziella says:

    Lovely journey, and pictures. Especially the one where the bee goes inside the flower! Great detail.

  7. A.M.B. says:

    Great pictures! I particularly like the “tight squeeze” ones. I love gardens as much for the wildlife they attract as for the flowers (as long as that wildlife doesn’t destroy the garden! Our deer are a bit of problem here).

  8. preoreo says:

    The bee photos are awesome.

  9. Loving your captures – love watching the bees do their thing:)

  10. Love my Huskers Red as it spreads all over even in my very wet flooded clay…hummers love it here too. Fabulous pictures.

  11. Absolutely great bee photos! Did you have your camera set up on a tripod? The detail and focus you have on the flying bees is incredible.

  12. What a journey!!!! I bet you asked it to do that, didn’t you?!!!
    Happy Sunday, my dear!

  13. Wonderful …thank you!

  14. Pat says:

    So much fun following this little bee!

  15. Myaz_Nuggetz says:

    Reblogged this on Myaz_Nuggetz.

  16. My first visit to your blog today. Great photos and fantastic blog too. I’ve been planting out Penstemons in my garden here in England today, so great to see you using them over there.. I’ll be back again soon… Mike

  17. I just posted some pictures of Penstemon ‘Husker Red’, but without bees. Bees and insects generally have been relatively few so far this year. I do love this plant though, and I love watching the bees climb in and out. Breathtaking pictures!

  18. This is one of my favorite plants. I planted them here, and for some reason, they only lasted one season. Wish they could live longer. I thought they are drought hardy. Perhaps not so much due to our sandy soil.

  19. Your photos are really stunning, as always. I have also planted several different Penstemons with the hope of attracting butterfly’s and hummingbirds. They have been the success that I had hoped. I have several Western Yellow Swallowtails and a couple of hummingbirds that now frequent the garden,

    • I only have the one kind, but it shows up everywhere. It seeds itself in the farthest reaches of my tiny garden and I have no idea how the seeds get where they do. Birds like the seeds so maybe it is them. Mine bloom a bit early for the resident hummingbirds. My hummers show up a bit later in the garden, when the trumpet vine and Monarda bloom.

  20. They are something to watch very busy from one flower to the next

  21. catmint says:

    hi donna, it’s wonderful to read your comments from the bee’s point of view. Your are very beempathic.

  22. Brian Comeau says:

    I’m not sure why… maybe I’m just tired… or weird 🙂 but I had memories of the Family Circus cartoons in the funny papers from when I was a kid and where they show all the places the kids have been the things they got into… Your bee story kind of reminds me of that…

  23. Incredible bee shots, Donna! Pollinators of all sorts were buzzing around my Salvia the other day, and I felt so wealthy ;). I had trouble focusing on them at the time because I was on trek to document all the blooms and foliage, but it was pretty incredible! I know that my two Salvia patches add priceless benefits to my garden. I only wish I had more sun here so I could plant more of them! Great post!

    • I have the Salvia post up now and it was pretty amazing how many different pollinators where on the Salvia. Like you, I only have two as well. Many pollinators I did not photograph because they were really small, but both plants were busy. Sorry to answer your comment late.

  24. Enjoyed the bee journey 🙂

  25. OMG, these photos are just amazing. I know how hard it is to capture the bee during it’s flight! Wonderful post!

  26. I love this change of proportions, in which what’s delicate and small looks so strong!
    Go for it, bee! 😉

  27. Cheryl says:

    Your love for photography, gardening and sharing the experience was a true treat.

  28. Yes, so great! The little leaf cutter bee is in the genus Megachile. I poked around your photos trying to get it to species, but it’s hard without a good look at the stergites or the clypeus. If forced to guess, I might go with inimica or rotundata.

  29. Fossillady says:

    Great close ups Donna!

  30. Fergiemoto says:

    Wow, stunning photos of the bee!

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