Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sage advice

When it comes to sage, it's easy, man: YES, yes and more yes. The season ought to be winding down, yest Salvias keep chugging along. I took the picture of the pink jobby above a few days ago at Santa Fe Greenhyouses, where I was visiting David Salman. Yes, the nursery is closed right now, but there are  a wealth of goodies still there in stock beds, borders and in the greenhouses. This pink selection I found there is a selection of S. pratensis or S. transilvanica.

I have recently joined in praise of the Texas muhly, 'Autumn Embers'--a form of Muhlenbergia reverchonii first collected by Lauren and Scott Ogden and sold for several years by Santa Fe greenhouses (High Country Gardens), here ablaze next to anther sage--Salvia grandiflora 'Nekan': both essential in my book.

What plant can challenge and match the blue of Salvia patens, still blooming prolifically in the Promenade walk in front of the Orangerie at DBG, where I took this picture last week. I understand these produce tubers that can be overwintered like dahlias? One can naver have enough of this, however you obtain (or overwinter) it!

I shall share my fantasy: on the large, southwest facing slope of my Xeriscape I call West Ridge, I have dreamed of planting all the color forms of Salvia greggii and S. microphylla, which are being hybridized so much in recent years. This year I obtained a dozen new forms--and planted them last May on that very slope. I have been busily watering and worrying over them ever since--not the best year to plant in unwatered gardens. To my delight, every one lived. Above is a soft pink microphylla in the foreground. Salvia greggii 'Furman's Red' in the distance.

I have severeal "S. x jamensis"  hybrids from Suncrest--this is the softer yellow of the two: boy do I hope this is hardy!

A pale pink S. microphylla (above)

And I am cheating by showing you this picture taken at DBG--the plants around my garden are even better, but devilishly hard to photograph: Salvia x 'Raspberry Delight', a hybrid produced by David Salman, may be the hardiest and most vigorous of the greggii types: I have it growing in part shade, in a watered garden in in the full blazing sun on West Ridge: both places it blooms more or less continuously through the growing season, and has never sown a sign of fussiness. Tough as nails!

Some salvias bloom only in springtime. But many of the best bloom much of the summer and fall--these monsoonal Southwestern salvias are always at their peak at the end of the growing season, bringing the garden to a spectacular culmination (like the cannons at the end of Tchaikovsky's 1812 overture). A few of these "Autumn Sages" have bloomed as early as April for me--making them eight month wonders. Would we were all so brilliant for such a long time of year!


  1. How very embarrassing! Of course that was the year...must have gotten confused with our war with Britain.

  2. oooooh, I've gone straight into a salvia swoooooon. Love them. all. dearly. And can't for the life of me get ANY of the greggii's to stay alive here (San Juan's, WA). I'm a total S.g. failure! Hard to swallow having previously lived in hot & sunny northern CA where I could barely kill one even if I tried. But I wonder ~ I have not tried 'Raspberry Delight' ~ dare I try again???

  3. Find the hottest spot in your garden: I guarantee Raspberry Delight will thrive! ('Furman's red' is almost as tough)...and there are a passel more on the way--just wait!


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