Alpine Garden Society

Ulster Group

            Plant of the Month, July 2013
Stachys macrantha - by Joan McCaughey
It is always a pleasure to find a plant in the mountains, which you have grown in your garden. Returning from the Russian Caucasus, we found Stachys macrantha (syn. Betonica macrantha, B. grandiflora), which was common on the mountainsides there, still in flower at home, and attracting the bees.

  Stachys macrantha near Dombai (1800m)

S. macrantha in the garden

The plant in our garden was brought back from Warble Bank, Newtownmountkennedy on one of those wonderful garden trips organised by Margaret Glynn and Kay Dunlop for Ulster Group AGS members in 2011, when our Ulsterbus driver Dirk's patience was sorely tried as the bus became packed with plants. 
This lovely cottage garden, owned by Ann Condell and her family for generations, was the last visit of our tour and as we all admired plants Ann kindly tried to satisfy our desires, in my case the floriferous Stachys.

I now realise that it is a plant of alpine meadows, flowering in profusion at around 1800m in the Caucasus mountains. In the book 'Flowers of the Caucasus' by Vojtech Holubec & Pavel Krivka ( Pavel was with us on our Russian visit)  it is described under the name Betonica grandiflora as a 'decorative easy perennial  - sunny place, no other requirements.'

Judging by its display this year in our garden I can vouchsafe that description and, growing to 50 cms, recommend it as a colourful addition to the border.