Friday, October 30, 2009

Silly over Salvia

Sometimes I think Rich Dufresne invented Salvia. I know he invented Agastache for all intents and purposes (I wish he had a penny for every one sold). Over the years he's sent me cuttings and seed and pictures of hundreds of salvias, whetting my curiosity about this pantropical, pantemperate and just plain panegyrical group of plants. There is one species that Rich won't probably grow very well in North Carolina: Salvia caespitosa is the undisputed rock garden gem of this giant genus. Like so many other fabulous Turkish plants, it was introduced into general cultivation about the time the Flora of Turkey was being written, and probably traces to an Alpine Garden expedition, or perhaps even to Peter Davis, mastermind of that incredible book.

It has been subsequently recollected by several Czechs, although their plants are not as dense and adorable as the original introduction. Albeit they are darker blue. I remember Jim Archibald once showing a slide of a lemon yellow phase of the one that's pictured above: I hope it has persisted in its wild home: Turkey is in the violent throes of transforming from a 3rd world country into a 1st world country, and as we know in America, there are great costs to this sort of metamorphosis...

There's not much one can say about a plant like just sort of look at the picture and sigh. And feel sorry for those who don't have rock gardens, where you can grow this sort of treasure. Let them watch "reality television", or talk shows (is there anything sadder than people watching other people lead dull lives or talk vapidities? Oh yes, there's watching other people exersize--the definition of television sports). But I digress...

I probably grow several dozen salvias. I have probably grown nearly 100 kinds in my day. And this is really a drop in the salvia bucket. To paraphrase Socrates the night before he drank hemlock, "I want to die growing one Salvia more".

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