Phlomis fruticosa has begun its spring bloom cycle and, while the flower power of this evergreen shrub is likely to increase over the coming weeks, its bright yellow blooms are already hard to ignore so I've given it status as my favorite this week. I inherited 12 of these drought-tolerant shrubs with the garden - there are 6 in the front yard in 2 groups of 3 plants each, where the yellow flowers bloom in accompaniment with the blue flowers of the Ceanothus hedge, and 6 more in the backyard, again in 2 groups of 3, backed by the orange-tinged foliage of the Xylosma hedge.
The shrub, which grows 3-4 feet (0.9-1.2 meters) tall and wide, gets woody and needs to be cut back hard in the fall to keep it in shape. I'm afraid I did a sloppy job of that this past fall so my specimens aren't in tip-top shape this year; however, my sloppy pruning hasn't significantly impacted blooming. The flowers are unusual. They form bell-shaped whorls around a central stem. If dead-headed after the spring bloom cycle, they'll rebloom on new growth in the summer, although my experience is that the second bloom cycle is lighter.
The leaves are a nice gray-green color. While they're usually described as woolly, they feel more like suede to me. The leaves resemble those of some Salvias, which accounts for the common name of Jerusalem sage, but the plant is actually in the mint family.
Phlomis fruticosa grows in full sun to light shade - most of mine get at least some shade during the warmest part of the day. Those in the shadiest locations are the slowest to bloom. The shrub is said to be hardy to 15-20 degrees Fahreneheit (-9.44 Celsius). They can be grown in USDA zones 7a-11 (Sunset zones 3b-24). They like some summer water in warmer areas.
The Jerusalem sage is my favorite plant this week. Please visit Loree at danger garden, our host for the weekly favorite plants meme, to see her current favorite and link to other gardeners' contributions.