Alpine Garden Society

Ulster Group

            Plant of the Month, August 2013
Castilleja miniata - by Harold McBride
Although there are over 200 species of Castilleja  world wide, very few are seen in gardens. Growers are probably wary of a plant that is partly parasitic on the roots of associated plants including grasses.
The genus is renowned for for its paintbrush-like flower spikes,  and is renowned as being one of showiest plants in the North American mountains.
C. miniata is found growing in North American mountains from British Columbia to California at up to 3500m, often found in rather damp places by streams - perhaps this is the reason  is seems amenable to NI conditions.

C. miniata and Three Sisters, Oregon

C. miniata in the crevice garden

C. miniata is the only member of the genus which I have managed to bring to flowering, some years ago I was inspired to try it when I saw it growing and flowering in Margaret  & Henry  Taylor's fine Dundee garden
I  managed to obtain seed  from one of the seed exchanges in 2009, and three years later the first "Paintbrush flowers " appeared. I have grown it in a raised bed and  also in a pot   with winter cover.
In recent years Aberconwy have offered C. miniata  in their catalogue , it is well worth trying this plant as it is quite happy in Northern Irish Gardens.