When we think of the Western U.S. we picture two plant comunities most often. The Deserts of the south west with their abundance of cacti and the sage brush steppe dominated by shrubs.
On the sunny, wind swept high deserts of the western US vast stretches of territory are dominated by shrub comunities. Artemisia, Purshia, Cercocarpus, Ephedra, Prunus, Chrysothamnus and Mahonia are very obvious and omnipresent. These and many others hidden throughout these steppes work well in a dryland rock garden as backdrops to the flowering herbaceous plants we cherish.
There is one shrub that occupies a prominted position in my garden. The gray aromatic mound, with dazzling blue/purple flower spikes in my garden is Salvia dorrii ssp.dorrii var.dorrii.
There are two subspecies in the S. dorii complex Salvia dorrii ssp. mearnsii from Arizona and Salvia dorrii ssp.dorii over the western states of AZ, CA, ID, NV, OR, UT, WA. Subspecies "dorrii ssp. dorrii" is further divided into four varieties based upon growth habit.
var.carnosa , a large-leaved erect shrub of Washington and Idaho southward through Oregon into extreme north-central California:
var.dorrii, a small-leaved erect shrub of southern Oregon and Idaho southward through the Great Basin of Nevada and western Utah to southeastern California and northern Arizona:
var.pilosa, a small-leaved erect shrub differing from var.dorrii by pilose bracts and calyx, in southern California and western Arizona with disjunct populations in the Lahontan Basin of northwestern Nevada and northeastern California;
var.clokeyi, a low mat-forming subshrub of the high mountains of Clark Co.,