Ellen M. Zagory

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Community favorite:Rock Mountain sage

Published: Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 6CALIFORNIA LIFE
Last Modified: Friday, Aug. 16, 2013 - 7:40 pm

This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Community Favorites, 75 can't-fail, easy-care plants well-adapted to our region and recommended by local gardeners.

Rocky Mountain sage

Salvia lanceolata

Size: Under 4 feet tall

Bloom season: Late spring, summer, fall

Exposure: Full sun

Pruning needs: Little or none; prune to shape

Water needs: Once established, water deeply once a week.

Snapshot:Also called lance-leaf or rusty sage, this striking perennial is a butterfly magnet with blooms from May until frost. Despite its Rocky Mountain nickname, it's actually native to South Africa, where it grows in sandy, well-drained soil. A tough and easy-care shrub, this pretty sage has aromatic, lance-shaped silver-gray leaves and rosy-pink flowers that turn rusty-orange in summer heat. As an added benefit, the leaves can be used in cooking. You can see specimens in the arboretum's teaching nursery on the UC Davis campus.

Why it's a Favorite: "(I) really love the rosy pink bracts and pinkish flowers of this plant," said master gardener Kristen Kolb, a volunteer at UC Davis' Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. "They look great with the silver-gray foliage, and make a nice, rounded plant."

• Read more about the Arboretum's 75th anniversary at arboretum75th.ucdavis.edu. For more on the Community Favorites and Arboretum All-Stars, click on http://arboretum.ucdavis.edu

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