(Turkish Mountain Sage) Part of the Salvia canescens group of Mediterranean sages, this dwarf species features lavender parrot-type flowers with whitish lower lips (or beaks!).
The petite flower spikes rise up from gray-green basal foliage. Its reddish green bracts and leaves are pleasingly fuzzy. Summer is bloom time for Salvia hypargeia, which easily attracts humans and butterflies but not deer.
Rock gardeners, this one's for you. Turkish Mountain Sage is native to Turkey, Iraq and Iran, where many plants prefer soil that is gritty -- an important quality for sharp drainage -- and low in fertility.
Due to the lax habit of its basal rosette, this steppe plant is a good choice for mass groundcover planting. It also does well in containers and raised beds. Give this heat- and cold-tolerant perennial full sun to partial shade and average supplemental watering based on local growing conditions.
Introduced to horticulture in 1854, Salvia hypargeia received its scientific name (authoring) from two German botanists who spent much of their careers in Russia. Carl Anton von Meyer (1795-1855) was a botanist for Russia's St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences where he met and collaborated with Ernst Ludwig von Fischer (1782-1854), director of the St. Petersburg Botanical Garden.
Similar to many Mediterranean sages, this one is the focus of medical research due to chemical compounds that may be useful for fighting cancer and bacterial ailments, such as tuberculosis.
We thank Panayoti Kelaidis, Denver Botanic Gardens senior curator and director of outreach, for the beautiful picture of Turkish Mountain Sage.