In the midst of my wind and heat anguish, I forget that there are things that do really well here. Some of these happen to be right in my favorite color. One of these is the lowly, weedy Vitex.
This is one plant that needs heat to do well.
I'm biased, but I happen to think that I inherited one of the best plants I've ever seen around town, with its vibrant color, and very long flower spikes.
The bees were so busy that they didn't even notice me taking photos. When I take photos of them on the lavender, they usually avoid the camera by only going to the flowers on the opposite side of the flower stem from me. But with Vitex, they don't care.
It's good at blocking the view of my trash bins and the neighbor's house, but only in the summer. The winter structure is architectural, but very low density since most of the coverage in the summer is from compound leaves.
Vitex may be my most impressive color producer right now, but there are a number of other plants that do well here, and in my favorite color scheme. I don't think I've been anywhere that the Russian Sage (Perovski atriplicifolia) looks better than in Albuquerque. Here is is normal for the plants to be 5 feet tall and even wider. It grows so well here, that I expect that it will soon appear on the invasive species list since is spreads so aggressively by seeds and underground rhizomes. But I have to admit that I love the color, even though the color varies. My big plant always has a dusty, smoky appearance, but sometimes the lavender is much more intense, sometimes it is rather washed out looking, like it did yesterday. I think it depends on whether the color is coming from the flowers (brighter) or the calyces (dustier).
Lavender 'Provence' has a similar color, and the added benefit of being more controlled, and being, well, lavender and all that entails, but with a shorter season of a few weeks, rather than Perovskia's four months of bloom. I like the other common Lavandula x intermedia hybrid 'Grosso' better since the flowers are much darker. Or the very dark L. angustifolia 'Hidcote' which is just about done right now.
Caryopteris x clandonensis is also an almost foolproof plant here, also in my favorite color range. Here, my 'Blue Mist' is just starting. I may like 'Dark Knight' a tiny bit more, since the flowers are a much richer color.
Plants of similar color bloomed earlier in the season, including the various Salvia species and hybrids, and the various catmints (Nepeta). I also don't have Buddleia hybrids, which may be invasive species in other parts of the country, but not so much here. I just realized that not only do these plants come in my favorite color, every single one of them has my other important criteria, fragrance. For most of them, it is primarily a fragrance of the leaves, an herbal fragrance, not a floral one. The only exception to this is the Buddleia, which to my nose, smell fermented. I need to make a list of these plants so that when I get bummed about plants that don't grow well here, I can look at the list. Oh wait, I guess I just did.
Looked at all the Buddleia around the neighborhood today, and they are too purple, not enough blue. Scratch them off my list.
I also forgot about rosemary. Lovely violet color that comes in spits during the winter, then a big flush as soon as the weather warms. I don't have to remind myself. It's already in the garden.
Walking out the front door, I can't believe I didn't notice when the Playcodon (balloon flower) started opening. Now that's a great blue, somewhat darker on the screen than in iPhoto. That goes on the list.