I'm not sure who's responsible for the moniker, "Mojave Sage" since a dozen or more sages are found in and around the Mojave desert. Oh well...it is probably the loveliest sage not only in the Mojave but in the world. Salvia pachyphylla was launched into stardom by Plant Select in 2005, although High Country Gardens and a few rare plant nurseries and seed companies had offered it sporadically the decade prior. I first saw pictures of this plant at a native plant conference at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in the late 1990's. Bart O'Brien was lecturing on California Salvia, and I was feeling sorry that we were denied so many of these in Colorado's fierce climate when he flashed astonishing images of this Salvia he had taken at high elevations in southern California. "Panayoti should be paying attention" cautioned Bart "since we can't grow this nearly as well as he will if he ever gets his hands on it". A few years later I had several accessions thriving in my private garden and at Denver Botanic Gardens.
The specimen in this picture was taken in late September at the Gardens at Kendrick Lake, that incredible showcase and anthology of the best in Watersmart gardening. That particular plant is nearly 4' across, and nearly as tall: I am amazed how the violet-purple bracts show up so vividly even in the twilight when I photographed it. The cool lavender blue aster behind provides a terrific foil. There are a dozen superlative specimens of this plant all over this garden. Just yesterday I strolled through with Lauren and Scott Ogden and Lauren commented that "I think I like this garden better this time of year", no doubt because the architectural and textural structure of the garden stands out so dramatically. You are not distracted by the myriad flowers and confusion of the garden season.
Juan Ramon Jimenez, the great Spanish poet writes: "O pasion de mi vida, poesia desnuda, mia para siempre!"
"Passion of my life, naked poetry, mine forever!"
When it comes to Mojave Sage, decked with flowery lingerie, it's sexy too!