Phlomis

Jerusalem Sage

Drought resistant and hardy, this genus belongs to the Mint family and includes about 100 perennials and subshrubs from the Mediterranean and western Asia. Well suited to our California climate, many of the species will thrive in warm, sunny sites and dry woodland edges.

Whorls of purple, pink or yellow flowers bloom in the summer, providing long lasting dry stems and flower clusters for decoration in the garden or kitchen.

Brightened by white heavily veined undersides and light fuzzy stems, thick heart-shaped pewter green leaves craft a handsome flanneled appearance. Stiff swarthy stalks thrust upward, interspersed with large long lasting showy whorls of spicy scented helmet-like, rich yellow flowers. This rugged shrubby perennial develops a somewhat woody foundation over time, and always brings fulgent accents to hot exposed slopes, wind-swept seaside plantings or any other sharp-draining sunny locale.

Blooms June–September.

Size: 3' 0" – 4' 0" high x 3' 0" – 4' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 7.

With a rugged constitution yet stately stature, this enduring Himalayan denizen spawns 12 in. long spade-shaped gray-green leaves that show off felted finishes, scalloped margins plus luminous silver undersides. Stout woolly stems shoulder the large whorled clusters of tubular lilac pink blooms above a soft looking bushy foundation. Adored by birds, bees and butterflies, Phlomis cashmeriana remains evergreen in milder climates, while appreciating proper air circulation, sunshine galore and sharp draining soil.

Blooms June-August

Size: 2' 0" – 3' 0" high x 18" – 2' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 5.

Launched in 1967 by Hilliers, a celebrated British nursery that supposedly received the namesake’s own garden seed, this grand hard-to-find Phlomis is an evergreen hybrid between Phlomis fruticosa and Phlomis russeliana. Commendable even on frosty winter mornings, the 6 to 10 in. tall spires are studded with large clustered snapdragon-like blooms composed of cream-colored hoods plus lemon-yellow lips. Daring spade-shaped green leaves, flashing felted finishes and silver undersides, attire staunch square upright stems beneath a colorful bumble-bee haven. Versatile, vigorous and dependable, deer-resistant ‘Edward Bowles’s can be added to mixed borders or water thrifty plantings.

Blooms June–early October

Size: 4' 0" high x 4' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 7.

<i>Phlomis fruticosa</i> <i>Phlomis fruticosa</i>

These bright yellow flowers bloom in a series of ball-like clusters known as verticillasters along stout stems and above felted, gray-green foliage. Used as a specimen or blended with Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ or Wood Oats, Phlomis fruticosa will provide bold color and form.

Blooms June–August.

Size: 4' 0" high x 3' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 6.

A golden aura infuses the small gray-green woolly foliage of this soft-looking 2002 AGM winner. Endemic to Crete, long-lived Phlomis lanata sports yellow hooded flowers, rising in whorled widely spaced tiers above a low compact foundation that wards off deer, rabbits and drought. Its stalwart good looks can be intermingled with Mediterranean neighbors such as Rosemary, Rock Roses and Eryngiums.

Blooms June–September

Size: 2' 0" high x 3' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 7.

<i>Phlomis russeliana</i>

With architectural assertiveness, stout straight stems broadcast separate whorls of butter yellow hooded blooms. Maintaining a stalwart beauty throughout the winter, the stalks look equally impressive whether fresh or dried as they stand above large and broad, heart-shaped olive-green leaves. The fuzzy, scalloped foliage develops into a plush low growing, evergreen cover that keeps those pesky weeds at bay.

In our garden, Phlomis russeliana casts bold accents along a pathway, assorting with Aster ‘Ringdove’ and Molinias.

Blooms June–September.

Size: 3' 0" high x 2' 0" & spreading wide.

Hardy to zone 4.

<i>Phlomis tuberosa</i>

Named for the small tubers that grow from its roots, this selection is perhaps the most unusual of all. Fuzzy leaf stems and large green leaves with toothed margins give the plant a coarse texture that is softened by lilac blossoms with reddish calyxes and deep crimson flower stems. Such distinctive character mixes especially well with grasses and Lavenders.

Blooms June–August.

Size: 4' 0" high x 3' 0" wide.

Hardy to zone 6.

With green arrow-shaped lush leaves, lustrous burgundy stalks and tiered wreaths of rosy lilac tubular flowers on statuesque stems, this well-mannered perennial adds dignity to the landscape. The toothed downy leaves compose a vigorous bushy base that’s nearly evergreen in many locales and capable of handling drought.

Versatile and equally at home in a formal setting or a meadow planting, ‘Amazone’ can be staged amid Stachys ‘Superba’ and Salvia ‘Amethyst’ for a fantastic purple and pink mélange.

Blooms June – August.

Size: 4' 0" – 5' 0" high x 2' 0" – 3' 0" wide.

Zone 4/5.

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Fantastic Fall Foliage.... The arresting foliage of these easy-care, low growing perennials remains tidy well into November. Adequate water, mulch and a mid-season trim help ensure their staying power.

November's last hurrah.... The shorter days and cooler nights of November have set the garden ablaze with eye-catching foliar color. By planting an assortment of woody plants as well as herbaceous perennials and ornamental grasses, which promote late season allure, a last hurrah is easily achieved. Each of the plants included in this newsletter bestow either plump berries, late blooms, compelling foliage or artful branching patterns. Happy Digging!

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