Cleveland Sage, California Blue Sage
Thought of as drought-tolerant shrubs in much of the West, this huge genus—the largest in the mint family—includes many species of shrubs and perennials that need moderate to regular water. In recent years, scores of new species and selections have appeared in Western nurseries, many tender varieties that are even being offered as annuals in cold-winter climates. All sages have square stems and whorls of two-lipped flowers, either distinctly spaced along flower stalks or so tightly crowded that they look like one dense spike; some species have branched inflorescences. Flower colors range from white and yellow through salmon and pink to scarlet and pure red, from pale lavender to true blue and darkest purple. A few sages have fragrant blossoms. Many have aromatic foliage.
Nurseries in the West offer nearly 100 species as well as dozens of selections and hybrids. Names are often confused; S. x jamensis varieties are often assigned to S. greggii; and S. nemorosa varieties are often interchanged with S. x superba and S. x sylvestris varieties.Salvia clevelandii
Evergreen shrub, from Southern California and northern Baja California. Rounded, arching growth to 3–5 ft. tall and 5–8 ft. wide. Wrinkled, toothed gray-green leaves to 2 in. long are elliptical or lance-shaped, deliciously fragrant. Foliage makes a refreshing tea and is also used as a preservative in potpourri. Fragrant, inch-long, pale lavender to violet-blue flowers in widely spaced whorls along 1/2 –2-ft. stems. Blooms in early summer; remove faded spikes to encourage rebloom. Drought-tolerant.
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