Salvia turkestanica, otherwise known as biennial Clary is a stunning plant, and deserves a place in every herbaceous border.
The images below show how it changes and develops over its flowering season. (As a biennial it starts life in year producing a rosette of leaves and building up reserves of starches and sugars to allow it to flower in a truly spectacular way in year 2.
The flower starts as a series of bracts (the leaf like structure to be found immediately behind a flower bud)
As the season progresses the flower spike extends, the bracts growing further apart.
The final stage of flowering is where the flower spike is full extended and the tubular Salvia like flowers have fallen, leaving just the bracts…
Salvia turkestanica with its stunning bracts, and gorgeous scented foliage is an easy plant to grow, it is fully hardy in the UK, and is safe to about -15C and while it can cope with full sun very well, I find it grows best when in lightly dappled shade.
There is a white form Salvia turkestanica alba, which is also readily available.
Salvia turkestanica is classed by the Royal Horticultural Society as being a nectar rich plant which helps pollinators.
Some parts of this plant are edible, and Thompson and Morgan have a useful guide to edible flowers.
The seeds have a mucilaginous coating. Some of the early herbalists such as Nicholas Culpepper in his Complete Herbal (1635) refers to Salvia turkestanica as “clear eye” after the practice of using the seed as a medication for people with foreign objects in their eyes, the theory being that the seed would stick to the foreign object and so assist in its removal.