I know that the plant combo of Ninebark ‘Diablo’ and Astilbe ‘Deutschland’ is fantastic.
Want to know why?
Because Nan Ondra told me so.
The author of one of my favorite gardening books, “The Perennial Matchmaker” featured this combo on page 46 of her book and used one of my photos.
That is some serious validation.
The combination of the dark foliage of the Ninebark and the bright white blooms of the Astilbe personifies the use of color contrast in the garden.
Ninebark ‘Diablo’ typically blooms (here in zone 6B) near the end of May and into early June.
Those blooms quickly devolve into red seed heads that add a different ornamental dimension to this deciduous shrub. At that same time, the Astilbe blooms first emerge.
Personally, I prefer the look of the white blooms with only the dark foliage as the backdrop, after the seed heads have disappeared, or after I, gulp, have removed them by hand.
My combo currently resides in a partial shade location that stays consistently moist and both the Ninebark and Astilbe seem to love it. As you may know, the Astilbe will fry if kept in too much sun or without consistent moisture.
In late winter, I heavily prune the Ninebark ‘Diablo’ by removing about 1/3 of the old branches to the ground in order to keep it in bounds. The Astilbe are all cut to the ground in late winter as well with new foliage emerging in April.
I wouldn’t consider this combo low maintenance yet the one time pruning and water maintenance is well worth it.