The dark-leaved varieties of Actaea simplex, commonly known as Kamchatka bugbane, are Sweden’s Perennial of the Year for 2018. Selected by the perennial group of the garden section of the Federation of Swedish Farmers, and presented at Elmia Garden in Jönköping, Sweden, it is a plant for connoisseurs that combines a strong and stately presence with liveliness and grace.
“It has such a fantastic growth pattern and is attractive all season with its magnificent foliage and then come the delicate blooms as the crowning touch when autumn approaches. It is so beautiful, you can grow it just for its foliage,” comments Berit Haggren, editor of växtforum.se, who presented the Perennial Group’s choice and unveiled the dark beauty on stage at Elmia Garden.
The Perennial Group’s statement: “An elegant, dark foliage that brings to life entire flowerbeds, topped with stalks of delicate scented flowers that light up the garden in the autumn. Actaea simplex is a gem among plants, the darling of many garden designers and Perennial of the Year for 2018.”
The Perennial Group has chosen Sweden’s Perennial of the Year since 1997, a 20-year-old tradition that is now crowned by the stately perennial Actaea simplex, which can be up to 170 cm tall when the slender but robust flower stalks shoot up from the foliage during September. The tall flower clusters at the top with their pearl-shaped buds unfold to be small delicate pink or white flowers with a scent of wild strawberry until the frost comes, and then remain standing in the garden as beautiful winter silhouettes.
Actaea simplex originated in northeast Asia and Japan. It likes both sun and shade but needs good access to water and nutrients.
“It has all the characteristics required of a Perennial of the Year: exquisite colour and form, healthy, hardy, and easy to grow. It is excellent as a stand-alone plant but is also a team player that lifts up many other plants in the flowerbed,” Berit Haggren says.