Hi, Dr. Hill,
This plant was photographed last year on Sept. 24. I passed it recently in the Fall Line region and the blooms haven’t opened yet this year. It is growing in sand-clay at the margin of a rural loblolly pine forest. The small colony of scattered plants grows about 6 feet into the trees and a short distance out toward the road and receives sun until the late afternoon.
your plant is the native Salvia azurea, a blue sage with attractive flowers. It is most common in the middle part of the state in and on both sides of the sand hills. Salvia is in the mint family.
Steven Hill, Ph.D. Botanist SCNPS