วันเสาร์ที่ 13 กันยายน พ.ศ. 2551

Russian Sage and Garden Rehab

Don't Say "Nyet" to Russian Sage

During the precious few moments when the hoses are not in our hands, we Texas gardeners pass the dusty, scorching days of late summer comparing notes about what plants -- if any -- are thriving in the sometimes triple-digit heat.

Every year, my #1 answer is the same: Russian Sage aka Perovskia.

Voted the Perennial of the Year in 1995 by the Perennial Plant Association, Perovskia atriplicifolia has been providing drought-tolerant beauty for many years. Reports of its origin are conflicting, but most horticulturists agree that perovskia is neither Russian nor a sage, although it is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae. Some have reported it is native to Pakistan, others say it came from Afghanistan. One online history claimed the plant was named by the Russian botanist Karelin about 1840 to honor a Turkestani statesman, B.A. Perovski, who was governor of Orenburg, a Russian city 1,500 miles northwest of the plant's native region. A similar story says the moniker came from V. A. Perovskia, a 19th Century Russian general.
Whatever its background, Russian Sage can not be denied as a carefree, drought-tolerant, sun lover in your perennial garden. It's also quite the bee magnet, so be mindful of where you position it in your landscape.

Howevever, if you're just looking for something fragrant, beautiful and carefree for filling a sunny spot or lining a driveway, here's all you need to know:

Foliage: Gray/Silver/GreenFlower: purple/blueHeight & Width - 3' to 5'Cold hardy to nearly -40FGrows in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 10.

Popular Cultivars include Blue Mist (lighter blue flowers), Blue Haze, Blue Spire (deep purple flowers and larger panicles), Longin (lavender-blue, with stiff upright stems and a more formal appearance), Little Spire (a dwarf variety) and Filigran (a cut leaf, lacier texture and more upright growth).

In my experience, nothing seems to faze this plant. Beyond a light layer of mulch at first frost and a modest trim in early spring, I have never had to do anything to the several perovskias that have thrived in both my back and front beds for the past five years. No spraying for insects, no fertilizing. Heck, I don't even water them. And when you don't have to do anything to a plant, well, that's about as organic as it gets.

Checking Into RehabAlas, I am leaving behind my Russian Sages, as my husband and I are soon moving to another part of Dallas. We are relocating 10 miles south, which will place me firmly into USDA hardiness zone 8, rather than on the 7/8 border like I was before, although I've never rigidly followed hardiness guidelines other than in extreme cases. (Don't ask about my attempts at growing rhubarb here in Texas.)

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