as I've noted before, just fills up my soul with peace.
I received a blue surprise this afternoon, however, in the form of an unknown blue flower in the same bed. This slightly-lighter-blue sage with fern-like leaves popped up in the center of the bed. At present, it is about 3 foot high and wide and just starting to bloom. I'm surprised that I didn't think it was a weed and pull it out earlier. I do vaguely remember seeing the foliage last month, thinking it looked like ragweed but unsure, and making a conscious decision to let it bloom so that I could identify it.
Look closely at that finely cut foliage with what surely looks like a sage flower starting to bloom among it. I quickly snatched these two iPhone photos today so that I could spread word of this wonder to the world. But what sage is it? I spent two hours tonight searching for other possible salvias in the region. I searched the USDA plants database and came up empty for anything that should be in Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, or Nebraska. My local wildflower books didn't help. In desperation, I broke off a piece of the plant and placed it on the scanner bed, to get a better look at the structure of the foliage (see below), and to upload it to others for identification. I even assigned it a study name, Salvia azurea roushii, just in case it was a previously undescribed species and this was my designated fifteen minutes of fame.
In the end, however, I simply proved that the entire world should be happy that I became a veterinarian and not a botanist. I simply spent two hours being an idiot. Finally, examining the stem of the specimen I scanned, I realized that it didn't have the characteristic mint-like, squared-off stem that it should have as a sage. So back I went outside, and on closer examination, found what should have been obvious to me at first glance. This IS a Salvia azurea, growing up through the middle of an Ambrosia, probably Western ragweed (Ambrosia psilostachya), my very common garden nemesis. I let grow, just this one time, almost to maturity, and it rewarded me by wasting my evening. Oh well, sometimes that's how the life of an amateur botanist goes.