While we think of gentians as alpine plants, there are a few exceptions that grow too big for the alpine bed. Gentiana asclepiadea, the willow gentian, is one of these taller varieties. .
Native to central and Eastern Europe, the willow gentian’s home patch is mountain woodland. Here, in soils that are permanently moist but not waterlogged and slightly acid, it will making arching stems a couple of feet long with trumpet-shaped flowers in late August and September. Overhead there is dappled shade. So a position in part shade with permanently damp soil should make it feel at home.
The type has blue flowers
and there is also a white-flowered form
But to really impress your gardening neighbours, track down the variety ‘Pink Swallow’