Astilbe or goats rue/beard are herbaceous perennials with attractive divided leaves and plume-like panicles of small flowers which come in red, pink, purple or white. Big, beautiful and fluffy flowers are borne in summer and fade to a decorative brown in autumn. They grow well in most soil types and will tolerate neutral, acidic or alkaline soils. Some of the newer varieties do better in the drier areas of the garden than the older types, but as rule they like to be damp and in full or partial sunlight. They grow into large clumps and can be divided up every few years in the dormant months.