Here’s Phlomis tuberosa ‘Bronze Flamingo’, in full bloom. I first encountered phlomis via a photograph in a gardening book and sought it out last August. It has a statuesque appearance, with strong stems holding interesting whorls of flowers spaced like pompoms. It stands a bit over 3 feet tall.
‘Bronze Flamingo’ settled in well and wintered over with no trouble. It has a hardiness rating of zone 5 in Canada (zone 4 USDA). It’s quite a tidy, upright, undemanding plant, and I’m surprised it is not more popular in North American gardens. If you google ‘phlomis’, many of the responses will be British sites, as phlomis species are better known there.
Phlomis is commonly called Jerusalem Sage. It does look a bit like a salvia (the salvias also being commonly referred to as sage), and in fact, both phlomis and salvia are members of the mint family, Lamiaceae. Besides P. tuberosa, there are several other phlomis species you may encounter in gardens. I have one of these, P. russeliana, which features yellow flowers, but it was miserable in the dry, full sun location I had chosen for it and is now recovering in a location with dappled shade.
Phlomis tuberosa is native to central to southeastern Europe and central Asia, where it inhabits steppes and dry meadows. I couldn’t find any background information as to the origin of this ‘Bronze Flamingo’ cultivar, although the name is said to refer to a bronze tinge of the leaves.