Wednesday, November 06, 2019

Plant Profile: Russian Sage (Perovskia)

This woody perennial or “sub shrub” is neither Russian nor a true sage. It is a terrific filler plant for the garden border with its silvery green foliage and bright violet-blue flower spikes that bloom from mid-summer into fall.

This so-called “sage” is a member of the mint family and when you brush by it, you’ll notice its strong menthol odor.

Russian sage requires at least six hours of sun. It prefers a lean, rocky soil, but regular garden soil is fine. It doesn’t like heavy clay soil, however. It does best in garden situations with great drainage such as along a retaining wall or curb.

Russian sage is drought-tolerant, deer-proof, and seldom troubled by disease or pests.

Pollinators love it. Bees and hummingbirds are especially attracted to the small, tubular flowers that blossom in rows along its stems.

Don’t fertilize it — doing so will encourage leggy growth and this sage has a tendency to spread wide and flop a bit. So, plant it among other tall perennials for support and for an attractive contrast. Try it with ornamental grasses, tall sedums, and mums.

It is best planted in the spring, rather than in the fall. Leave it up in winter as the silhouettes of the white-ish stems are quite attractive, then cut the whole plant down to the ground in March.

Some commonly available cultivars to try include ‘Blue Spire’, ‘Filigran’, ‘Longin’, and a dwarf cultivar ‘Little Spire’.

For more about Russian Sage, see the Fall 2010 issue of Washington Gardener Magazine.

   Try growing Russian Sage in your garden today – you can grow that!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine and edited by intern Jessica Kranz.
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Friday, November 01, 2019

DIY: Decorated Pumpkins 3 Ways

Decorating just the surface of your pumpkins, rather than carving them, allows them to be left intact for eating later. 

These three methods also use more delicate designs in various botanical themes than most home crafters could accomplish with carving kits.

Here are three quick and easy ways to decorate your pumpkins this season.



Cover your work surface with newspapers and gather your materials.

Method 1: Lay the stencil on your pumpkin and dab gently inside the stencil with black paint using a foam brush. Go slowly and carefully. Pick up the stencil and wipe off any excess paint outside your design with a damp paper towel.

Method 2: Cut out the designs you like from the stencil sheets and lay them on the pumpkin. Use a popsicle stick to rub the design on to the surface. It can take a while to get all the edges and fine details adhered. Carefully lift off. Continue all around the pumpkin as desired.

Method 3: Use painter's tape to mask off a square or rectangle area on your pumpkin. Paint inside the area with chalkboard paint and let dry. Then do a second coat. Wait until that coat is full dry, then write a message in chalk.

Tip: Don't carry your pumpkin by the stem as it can snap off. Carry it from the bottom.

Optional: Paint on a coat of sealer before your designs and then after they are dry so another coat of sealer. This will help your designs last, especially the chalkboard paint, which is a very fragile layer on the pumpkin's surface.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a few pennies from Amazon.

This is a monthly blog series on DIY projects for the beginning home gardener. Look for the other installments in this DIY blog series by putting "DIY" in the search box here at

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