Imagine a liatris with reddish-pink flowers that open in early April. Would you be excited? Although it's not exactly a liatris, it sure looks like one. Echium russicum is one of the few echiums that will thrive in temperate climates. Forming a small basal rosette of flat, green, sandpapery leaves, this short-lived perennial puts on a superb spring show. The 1" wide spikes flower for months, producing a hard-to-find, early-season vertical effect in the perennial border. Echium does not like wet soils or crowded mid-border conditions.