Perovskia atriplicifolia

(Russian Sage)

Perovskia is probably called Russian Sage due to its sage-like growth, but it is not a member of the salvia family. It is also not Russian! It comes from central Asia, and was named after a Russian general , V A Perovski, by the naturalist and plant collector Karelin who discovered it in the 19th century. (Karelin apparently taught his Cossack guards to become expert at recognizing plants!)

It grows in a wild fashion, and spreads itself out, but is extremely resilient to heat, rain or strong winds. As you can see, it is exposed to the elements in my rockery, sitting on the hottest, windiest edge. It is also extremely hardy, as well as drought resistant… important in winter, when permafrost can finish off thirstier plants.

The bees adore its lavender-like spires. Can you hear them buzzing away? This is the most commonly grown hybrid “Blue Spire”, which describes it perfectly. It flowers from July through to the first frosts, when I cut it back by about two-thirds for the winter. It then gets a pruning once it starts to sprout again in spring, but would probably be just as pretty if completely neglected, as it is in some public gardens I’ve seen here!

As with sage or lavender, the foliage has that silvery tinge to it, and the stems become woody as it grows. It smells quite pungent when rubbed – not exactly unpleasant, a little like sage… Maybe that’s another reason it has been given its common name…