Day 14 of the perennial plant challenge. Phlomis lanata, commonly known as Wooly Jerusalem sage, is not a sage, but it is in the mint family (it has square stems!). Although it blooms heaviest in the late spring and early summer, it continues blooming into the fall, so these lovely bright yellow flowers can be enjoyed for many months!
Phlomis lanata grows to about 3 feet tall, and can get as wide as 4 feet. It is a sturdy evergreen, hardy down to 12 degrees F. This is the plant you put in your hottest, driest, sunniest spot in the garden. It is a great choice for hillsides, wide hell strips next to a street, along a back wall or fence where the afternoon heat is just intense. The small grey leaves are very fuzzy or wooly (the botanical name lanata is Latin for wooly). Usually, wooly grey leaved plants are drought tolerant and deer resistant, and this specimen is no exception!
The whorls of bright yellow blooms are unexpectedly fragrant, emitting a bit of a juicy fruit gum smell. The flowers last for several months, and even when only the dried calyx is left the flower has an interesting look. Once the plant is established, very little summer water is needed, and the plant only needs a light shearing after bloom to keep it looking tidy. It can be used in the landscape as a medium height evergreen shrub. Phlomis lanata is native to the island of Crete, from sea level up to 5,000 ft. Plant it with California natives and Mediterranean natives, in well drained soil.