Mexican blue sage
Size: Under 2 feet tall
Bloom season: Spring, summer, fall
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Pruning needs: Little or none; prune to shape and keep compact form.
Water needs: Once established, water deeply once or twice a month.
Snapshot: Also called germander sage, this low-growing shrubby sage produces masses of unusually clear blue flowers from late spring through fall. Small, rounded gray leaves cover the handsome evergreen shrub, which tends to hug the ground and can reach 4 feet wide. Native to the high desert of Mexico, this easy-care sage loves the sun, and its bright-blue flowers bring the sky down to earth in the low-water garden, creating a mass of gray and blue. And beneficial insects love it, too. Hardy down to 20 degrees, this sage looks excellent with yellow-blooming plants such as Euryops; that plant combination can be seen on campus along Old Davis Road. "We planted that salvia one year ago and haven't done a thing to it and it still looks great," said Ellen Zagory, the arboretum's horticulture director. "It's just fabulous." You also can see specimens in the arboretum's Ruth Risdon Storer Valley-Wise Garden on the UC Davis campus.