Salvia Problem

By February 26, 2011 My Garden, plants One Comment

I have a salvia problem.

That’s salvia, not saliva. Plants in the sage family. Huge, huge genus, has something like 700 species in it, very popular in gardens. Many of them are very tough, durable, drought-tolerant plants, they all tend to be quite popular with the pollinators and while I’m sure there are some thugs in the genus, all the ones I’ve tried have been well-behaved and non-invasive in the garden. (Although I’m not all that pleased with some of the ornamental cultivars currently out there–very pretty, but can’t take our humidity, tend to melt.)

I kinda collect them.

Generally I’m really good about the native plant thing. I browse the nursery aisles with my phone in hand, googling plant origins. There are far more natives in my garden than non-natives, and immigrants have to pull their weight in the nectar department, or they get the boot. But the system breaks down when I come to the salvias.

I went to this garden center in Sanford today, called “Big Bloomers” and I got a dozen or so plants, and all of them were native…until I got to the salvias. (Okay, okay, some of the Agastaches, while native to North America, are not actually native to my chunk of it. I’ve kinda started collecting those, too, I confess.  And okay, fine, the Chipola River Coreopsis is endemic to Florida, but I’ll fudge a lot for a coreopsis that takes wet soil and part-sun.)

But their salvia collection…dear lord. I could do my entire garden in nothing but salvias. (AND DON’T THINK I HAVEN’T THOUGHT ABOUT IT!) They had whole aisles of nothing but salvias. Belize Sage. Andean Mountain Sage. Florida Sage “Volcano.” (Legitimately native to my region!) Sages from Baja, Brazil, Uruguay.  On and on, every color of the rainbow, every shape and variation of leaves, salvia after salvia. It was glorious and terrifying and I had gather my shreds of willpower and not just start shoveling them into the cart with both hands. (I got a few–the one from Florida, a hardy bog sage, a beautiful little dwarf called “Champagne Blush” and “Of the Night” which would take semi-shade. Believe me, this counted as “exercising restraint.” There were HUNDREDS. I was lucky many of them were not hardy to zone 7b, or else I’d be in trouble.)

Clearly I have to get the one side bed in the backyard done as quickly as possible. Of course, before I can really work on that, I need to finish the expansion of the vegetable bed, which is ALMOST done (and I’m sticking some of my new mountain mint varieties in there to attract pollinators to my veggies) and I should probably finish digging the pond, and I think I’m supposed to be writing a book or something, but oh god, it smells like spring out there, and what am I, made of stone?

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