Sunday, November 28, 2010

"Naked Poetry, mine forever"

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 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!


  1. Mojave sage? Surely you mean Salvia mohavensis. I suppose ‘thick-leaved’ sage just wouldn’t do. But one has to wonder why the nom de phytons Blue sage, Rose sage, Mountain desert sage, Giant flowered purple sage or Desert rose sage, all already accepted/acceptable common names for the species would not do. Soon, it is reported, ‘Blue Flame’ PPAF will be/is available at High Country Gardens. Red and white flowers and variegated foliage (ugh!) can’t be too far behind.

    A native sage that is taking the West by storm is a testament to the treasures yet to be discovered right here at home.

  2. Amen,Mr/Ms Anonymous to all you say: I've thought all those things myself (I confess)...

    For your amusement, I was just told today about a friend who found a VARIEGATED hardy ice plant sport in their garden this past summer which they propagated and are testing out. How does that strike you!

  3. It was bound to happen eventually. If more would grow them from seed, I suspect that a ton of variation, including variegation, would appear much sooner.

    The web reports Delosperma 'Semi-trailing Variegated', magenta flowers & broadleaf. Suspect this is a non-hardy Aptenia.

  4. Does anyone know what a plant might be that I saw and Kendrick Park yesterday? It sort of looks like a pineapple plant, dark green, 2.5' X 1', succulent leaves which are not sharp. Could it be some sort of yucca? It is planted in most of their island beds and it is not marked. Help - I loved this plant!

    1. This sounds as though it could be Yucca rupicola, a dark green leaved yucca from Texas Greg has planted in several areas...I am headed to Kendrick on Friday and will keep my eyes peeled!


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