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Plant of the Month

Russian Sage
Perovskia atriplicifolia

Location: Grid Q-30 along the east side gravel road, north of the Xeriscape Garden

Russian Sage has become a very popular landscape plant in the past few years. For a long time, the straight species and a couple of selected cultivars were all that were available. However, in 2014 for some reason there was an explosion of new cultivars, and there have been additional releases in the past two years.

Russian Sage, <em>Perovskia atriplicifolia</em>, species and cultivars 7-20-16
Russian Sage, Perovskia atriplicifolia, species and cultivars 7-20-16

In 2014 we were asked to develop a memorial for Harley Wright, a retired U of I librarian. Her daughter mentioned that she really liked Russian Sage, and serendipitously all of a sudden there were lots of new selections to try. I have always like the contrast between silvery blue foliage and the dark burgundy of the red leaf Japanese Barberry. There have been several new selections of Barberry in recent years as well, so we combined the two to make a display/trial of the new selections.

'Lacey Blue' Russian Sage, <em>Perovskia atriplicifolia</em> 7-20-16
'Lacey Blue' Russian Sage, Perovskia atriplicifolia 7-20-16

There are now seven different cultivars in the bed, along with some of the original species. The species is clearly the largest of the selections. 'Lacey Blue' seems to be the most compact, 'Silvery Blue' has the most distinctive foliage (and the latest to flower) and 'Crazy Blue' is the deepest blue flowers.

Monthly Projects

It has been a remarkably cool and damp July in Moscow, which has been a stark contrast to last year’s hot, dry, smoky weather. That weather is probably generally good for most plants, although there are lots of things like tomatoes that would prefer a little more heat. Unfortunately, some of the plants that love the cooler weather are the broad leaf weeds, like dandelions, thistles and plantain. So, a lot of time has been spent spraying and pulling weeds this month.

Pond skimmer at work 7-20-16
Pond skimmer at work 7-20-16

Another big effort is trying to keep up with the aquatic weed growth in the lower pond. Last year we purchased a new piece of equipment which is designed to skim the surface of the water, then filter out the weeds. If the wind cooperates and the weeds collect in the right corner we usually collect about four or five wheelbarrows full each day it runs. At that rate we are barely able to keep some open water visible.

Native Roots collection 7-20-16
Native Roots collection 7-20-16

Upcoming Events

Saturday, July 23
Science Saturday in the Arboretum
Aquatic Macroinvertebrates
Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute
10:00 am at the Red Barn

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