Every once in a while you come across a plant that absolutely stops you in your tracks. I literally let out a WOW when I saw this at Morris Arboretum yesterday. It was in the Alice and J. Liddon Pennock Flower Walk behind a bank of coleus that was also striking.
This is purple Mexican sage or bush sage, Salvia leucantha, and while you'll read that it gets about 4 feet tall, this bunch was pushing 5. The flower wands are like velvet, and when they sway in the breeze, it's truly an inspiring sight.
I'm told this is'Midnight,' a rich violet purple with silvery gray leaves. Covered with blooms. Some folks advise staking but why would you want to? I love the way it bends and nods. It's supposed to be drought-tolerant and a draw for bees and butterflies.
Only thing wrong with this plant? It won't survive our winters. But it's on my list for spring 2012.