Photos of Salvias abundant with nectar-rich flowers tell a story about Dave and Eleanor Holland's passion for hummingbirds. Tall drifts of fine green foliage and bright red blossoms beckon the birds to their Northern California yard in USDA Zone 9. Mixed in the haze are:
Hummingbirds are only found in the Western Hemisphere. Plant red, tubular flowers native to this part of the world and the birds that early Spanish explorers called joyas voladores (flying jewels) will come.
Discoveries and Bonuses
It was their devotion to hummingbirds that lured the Hollands into our online catalog at Flowers by the Sea more than a year ago. At that time, Dave says, they decided to try Salvias (true sages) to attract the tiny birds. Soon after planting, they discovered a bonus: Monarch butterflies and bees whirring through the landscape.
Two other factors that Dave said they like about certain sages are rapid plant growth and nearly continuous bloom in a moderate climate. This is especially helpful for feeding hummingbirds that like to winter up north.
As to less winter-hardy species, the Hollands grow them in containers for ease of overwintering in their 200-square-foot greenhouse.
We asked Dave some questions about their experience as Salvia gardeners.
FBTS: How did you become interested in gardening?
Dave: Eleanor and I both grew up on dairy farms where gardening was a part of life. Granted, we mostly grew vegetables, but we experienced the art of growing things and seeing the results. Thus, we have always been interested in gardening.
FBTS: What Salvias do you grow in your garden and which ones are your favorites? If readers were visiting your yard, which flowerbeds might they notice first?
Dave: We have over 100 different Salvia plants in our garden, all purchased from FBTS. Our favorites include:
These are our favorites, because they are constantly in bloom. When someone visits our garden, no one flowerbed stands out. The whole garden area excites them. To quote one visitor, the response was "Wow."
FBTS: What is your philosophy about the kinds of plants you choose? Do you prefer native species or do you love plants from other parts of the nation and world?
Dave: We pick plants because the blossoms catch our eye. We also pick plants based on specific requirements of a location, such as its sunlight level and available space.
FBTS: What are your most important tips for beginning Salvia gardeners?
Dave: (1) Pick a few plants that you like. (2) Check to see that the plants will grow in your USDA zone. (3) Make sure that the sunlight and water condiions of the plants match the location you have in mind. (4) If you have questions or concerns, FBTS can help you. (5) Based on our experiences, buy your plants from FBTS, as they have the largest variety of Salvias, deliver the healthiest plants and provide excellent customer service.
A New Feature
Big thanks to Dave and Eleanor Holland for being our first customers to participate in Portraits in Gardening -- a new, ongoing feature of our Everything Salvias blog. It focuses on customers who are passionate about the Salvia genus and want to share their gardening experiences. For more information, please write or call us. We would love to hear about your garden.