Garden Sage Tough As An Afghan Winter

Garden Sage Tough As An Afghan Winter

Northern gardeners will find this hardy sage a perfect substitute for lavender in the landscape.


Ask any American soldier and he’ll tell you how cold and dry it gets in northern Afghanistan in the winter.  This country which sits on the western edge of the old Soviet Union is home to what is called Russian sage, a soft wispy blue perennial as tough as badland sagebrush.  I have found it is quite compatible with finicky California natives in raised rock beds filled with infertile, fast draining gravelly soils.  That proves its worth in mountainous terrain, high desert and poor eroded sites.

It’s only come into our gardens recently and already the species, Perovskia atricplicifolia, has produced some hybrids which may produce better flower color and overall garden worthiness.  ’Little Spire’ is a dwarf form.  Larger ‘Filigran’ is quite well received.  Consider all of these hardy to USDA Zone 4, but there’s a chance they can go lower with adequate protection.  Due to their dry climate of origin, their greatest threat is waterlogged soils. 

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Perovskia ‘Filigran’ is available at Wayside Gardens.

This plant is a natural for western landscapes because it serves as a lovely transition from a dryland garden to the natural wild countryside.  However, if planted on well drained banks and borders it takes on the look of a highbrow perennial as well. 

You can buy species or cultivars online at A High Country Garden and Wayside Gardens, both in our Cool Links.  However, plants are also widely available in quarts or one gallon containers in garden centers nationwide.

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