Most gardens could use a neat, self-supporting shrub that flowers for months right through the autumn. That combination of neat habit and late flowering is especially valuable.
Well, step forward this new form of the sun-loving old favourite the Russian sage, Perovskia atriplicifolia, that combines all the best qualities of older varieties.
Reaching no more than 90cm in height, the branches hold themselves more strongly upright than those of other dwarf types and don’t collapse outwards. From spring to summer, white stems carry finely dissected, aromatic silvery grey foliage which is attractive in itself and provides a harmonious foil to summer flowers.
From July to October those white stems are topped by an unusually long season of dense lavender blue spikes of flowers which last well when cut. And when the flowers have dropped, the display is continued by the unusually large dusky purple calyces.
Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Rocketman’ was developed at Walters Gardens in Michigan, USA. In 2008 Kevin A. Hurd picked out this seedling from plants grown from open pollinated seed of ‘Little Spire’. It was noted for its short, compact habit, its strong erect stems, its extended flowering season of large, densely-arranged, lavender-blue flowers and its silvery serrated foliage. It was assessed for another five years before being improved for introduction.
This is not a dramatic breeding breakthrough. But in bringing together a number of modest improvements it represents a very useful development that brings added value to familiar shrub.
You can order Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘Rocketman’ from Hayloft Plants.
Please note, the contents of this blog reflect the views of its author, which are not necessarily those of the RHS.