October 17

Salvias in the Autumn Garden

Thanks, perhaps, to global warming, the very late-blooming,  tender salvias are flowering lavishly this October. Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) is waving three-foot branches of scarlet racemes, which I was surprised to notice today is frequented by monarch butterflies as well as hummingbirds. I thought the monarchs were already on their way south. I have always included this sage in the herb garden because of its fragrant leaves–they really do smell of pineapple–but in the past frost often hit before the brilliant flowers had a chance to open. Not anymore. We have their showy flowers for weeks, mingling with the purple and white tubular blooms of Salvia x ‘Phyllis Fancy,’ one of the marvelous new hybrids probably related to S. guaranitica  and its handsome blue cultivars.  It is always worth it to add some of the tender salvias to the garden in spring for late summer and fall color. We usually order them from a mail-order catalog (such as Avant Gardens), although Bosco takes cuttings of some of his favorites in September and roots them with moderate success in the cold greenhouse, then pots them up, pinches them back, and keeps them going until we can plant them out next May.

Comments

  1. Kate Cronk says:

    Inspirational country gardening at its best! We too have very hot summers and quite cold winters, but avoid most of the frost as we are high on a hill. I will read and re read your garden notes with great interest , as well as looking out for your books.

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