Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Salvia mundi!

Salvia phlomoides ex Morocco

It seems as though just about every year in my life, a new Delosperma, Penstemon, Eriogonum or Salvia seems to show up and shake things up again! Of course, these are all gigantic genera that have seen an enormous amount of interest in recent decades. I've probably grown more of the first three genera than just about anyone, I suspect, and have been one of the first to promote them on the mass market (although my name, alas, shall be primarily wedded with the first genus)...Salvia is just too damn pantropical. There are no end of weird Salvia in the new and old world tropics that just won't grow worth a damn in Colorado: just as they start to bud up in the fall they are inevitably felled by frost. Not that I'm bitter or anything. My friend Rich Dufresne (who practically invented both Agastache and Salvia in their current popularity) keeps tempting me with tender morsels, so to speak...I try hard to resist. There are so many temperate Salvia, and the best may be yet to come! This first haunting backlit image is of Salvia phlomoides a Spanish and Moroccan species introduced by the redoubtable Mike Kintgen, photographed in his garden in June. It is in the hypargeia/daghestanica/canescens tribe, and probably the best of the lot (which is saying a lot). It sets lots of seed....S. hypargeia was nearby, so let's hope some of it is non hybrid!







Not everything sexy HAS to be new: I have grown Salvia forskahlei for years, suffering over how to pronounce the accursed name. I finally got a little stand growing under my big blue spruce next to my driveway, and when it bloomed a few weeks ago (in late July! What a clever time for a plant to bloom! No way you can ignore it then) I was captivated by its blossoms in the backlight: lucky placement. I adore the elegant outline of these things, and their birdlike poise. I can never have enough Salvia. No, I am not talking divinorum (one of those tropical thingies)...





I blogged about Salvia caespitosa several years ago, but my lovely little clump (now gone) was horribly trumped by Mike Kintgen this spring who had numerous clumps scattered hither and yon in his jewel box garden. Surely, this is the alpine gem of the genus. I shall long remember Jim Archibald's picture of a lemon yellow form of this that hopefully persists on some Turkish hillside. What a thrill it would be to see it myself! And what a joy to collect it!




I am quite sure I shall continue to find gems in this genus: from Salvia indica in April to the rabble of late autumn sages, there is not a day in the growing season when one Salvia or another doesn't share its grace and fragrance in my garden. Salvia mundi indeed!





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