Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Salvias in Fall Bloom

I was unable to resist these salvias last spring. Seduced by the names and descriptions alone, I dreamed of new (to me) fall color in my garden. I was not disappointed. The first salvia, Salvia madrensis, is also called the forsythia sage. It hails from the Sierra Madre region of Mexico, preferring elevations of 4-5,000 ft. Optimally it grows taller than 10ft and forms lovely large clumps. Mine is about 7ft. and has only three stalks. It is striking non the less.
The second salvia I belive is a cultivar of Salvia leucantha, perhaps 'Santa Barbara'. It's native to Central America and Mexico. My specimen is approximately a 3 X 3' subshrub, quite tidy and contained. The third I know only as Salvia 'Purple Majesty'. Tall and rambling, it is supported by my late asters. Lastly is a Salvia involucrata cultivar 'Mulberry Jam'. It is a light and airy plant that needs support. It has been blooming since the beginning of September. It's a true winner. (see floridata.com for more information)

Jane Loudon, in her 1854 American edition of Gardening for Ladies writes: "No one who has only seen the common Sage growing in a kitchen-garden could imagine the splendidly flowering plants which belong to the genus Salvia. ... They differ in their habits as much as in their flowers; some are shrubby, some perennial, some biennial, and some annual; and some are so tender as to require a stove; while others must be kept in a frame or greenhouse, and the greater part are quite hardy in the open air. All kinds should be grown in a light rich soil; and they are progagated by cuttings, division of the root, or seeds, which last nearly all the species ripen in great abundance." Thank you Jane, as always. I'll be collecting seeds soon.


Heloise Bottomley said...

I have been following your blog quietly for a while, timidly doing research for my own. It always gives me pleasure and I love the added context. This post in particular as I have loved and lost all my Salvias.(Now I think I know why)Heloise

kjohnson said...

Thanks for reading my blog. I looked up yours and I heartly encourage you to continue. You are such a long way away - isn't this blogging world amazing. I am currently read up on the history of plant explorations from several points of view. I hope to have a post up in a few weeks on this topic. Now I will have a reason to investigate the South African angle!