When I designed my "hellstrips" I knew that the plant/bush that I wanted as the mainstay would be Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia). I planted about 20 of them. Not only do I love the beautiful blue/purple color, but they help take up a lot of space. To break up the long strips I planted what I call "vignettes" of Perovskia and several companion plants, broken by smaller plantings to allow access and add variety. I purchased them from many different nurseries and in many different sizes. In early Spring I cut them back to about 10-12" hoping that they will stay more compact. As you can see, they don't. They might possibly be a little too tall for use in hellstrips, but I find them to be very dramatic, especially when driving down the street. Believe me, you want to have plenty of room for most of these beauties.
If you are interested in learning more about this gorgeous bush High Country Gardens has some information about growing and purchasing them in most of their catalogs. Their 2007 Fall Edition states they are "one of the most common plants in new western xeriscapes..." They show suggestions for companion plants as well.
Perovskias can add a beautiful look to the winter landscape. The branches turn a soft, textural and "filmy" white. Before the first heavy snow I trim back some of the longer branches on the bottom and try to cut back on the weight they must hold. This helps quite a bit. But sometimes if the snow is early it will take them to their knees. These bushes I trim back quite a bit so that they are not too stressed.
I am in my second year of an experiment (holding my breath every time) to see if trimming the plants back before they set flowers will help make them stronger and better able to withstand storms. See what you think. I think it may be worth it.
Here are the plants that are the "control" in my experiment. They were not trimmed back. The flowers are "fluffier" and they may be a deeper blue, but you can see what happens when we get a lot of moisture. The Perovskia in the first photo does get some shade, but the second one is in full sun all of the time.
The following photos show the Perovskia's that I trimmed back just before they began to bud. You can see that they look "thinner," but seem to be standing more upright. And they are not flopping as much. There are a couple of different forms of the plant here and I'm sorry that I do not have the information at hand as to which they are. I will go back to when I planted them and see if I can post that. There are forms (High Country lists them) that stand up better.
I wish I had more room to truly show off these beautiful shrubs. I would love to see them on a dry hillside with other rugged companions to do them justice. However, we garden with what we have and not what we would like to have. Right? So, I enjoy them where they are and get many compliments from people passing by. My favorite thing to do is to stroll along them in the early morning when the sun is back lighting them, and seeing all the little bees still asleep in their blossoms.