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Fall Planting: Commemorating the HMS Salvia

Oct 6, 2013

Fall Planting: Commemorating the HMS Salvia

Not long ago, we stumbled on an article about a Second World War, British naval warship named the HMS Salvia. The name made strange sense to us due to the toughness of the genus. Many Salvias survive, and even thrive, in heat, cold, drought and other difficult conditions.

At first, it was engaging simply to ponder what species of Salvia might be the source of the warship's name.

Maybe a Meadow Sage
Salvia pratensis, also known as Meadow Clary, is the only sage native to Great Britain. However, the continental European native Salvia nemorosa is commonly referred to as "Salvia" in Great Britain and is also called a Meadow Sage.

Nowadays, an abundance of lushly blooming Meadow Sages is available. Some that we grow at Flowers by the Sea include:

The last three involve crosses of S. pratensis and S. nemorosa.

Winston Churchill's Plan
Tough or not, Salvia became the name of a warship for a far different reason than floral resilience. The HMS Salvia was part of a fleet of 219 compact escort ships called corvettes that the British began building in 1939. All were named for flowers, from Abelia to Zinnia, and the entire group eventually became known as the Flower Class corvettes.

Canada’s Legion Magazine notes that Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty when the Second World War began, devised the naming scheme. He reportedly liked the public relations possibilities of beating Germany's "Wolf Pack" subs with ships named after blossoms.

But the HMS Salvia succumbed to a German U-boat submarine in 1941 while the British ship was trying to rescue German prisoners of war. They were on a torpedoed passenger liner that the HMS Salvia was escorting off the coast of Alexandria, Egypt.

Oddly enough, the Germans had previously sunk another British warship named HMS Salvia during the First World War.

Memorial Plantings
It is a long tradition to commemorate people and events with garden plantings. This article is a commemorative of sorts for the sailors who died on both HMS Salvia warships.

Fall is an excellent time for planting, because plants develop strong roots before spring when they need to put their energy into leaf growth. Fall is also a good time to honor the fallen as well as members of the military who are alive but served in foreign conflicts. Veteran's Day isn't far off; neither is next spring.

Please call or write if you have any questions. We're glad to share ideas.

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Plants mentioned in this article
Ask Mr Sage is one of the most popular categories in our Everything Salvias blog. Here are a few of the latest posts:
Ask Mr. Sage: How to Place Advance Orders with FBTS - Flowers by the Sea is a mail-order nursery eliminating craziness from garden planning with advance orders and customer selection of shipping dates. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature based on calls and emails received by FBTS. This article details how to use our redesigned preorder process and other catalog tools for making sure you get the plants you want when you want them. Ask Mr. Sage: How to Select Plants for Garden Triumph - Planning for Salvia garden success requires following the rule of selecting the right plant for the right place. Desert sages aren't appropriate for the damp Southeast. Moisture-loving ones aren't right for desert climates where they need lots of watering to survive. Flowers by the Sea Farm and Online Nursery offers tips for selecting plants based on local climate. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature of the FBTS Everything Salvias Blog. Ask Mr. Sage: How Should I Prune my Salvias? - Flowers by the Sea Online Nursery specializes in Salvias and often receives questions about how to prune them. Although getting good at pruning takes practice, Salvias rebound quickly if you make mistakes. A key to successful pruning is understanding the varying needs of four main categories of sages. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature of the FBTS Everything Salvias Blog. Ask Mr. Sage: Do You Offer Free Shipping? - Like free lunches, free shipping is a myth. Flowers by the Sea doesn't offer free shipping, because it would require increasing plant prices to cover the cost of shipping. Read more to learn how FBTS sets fair shipping prices. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature of the Everything Salvias Blog and is based on calls and notes from customers. Ask Mr. Sage: Best Time to Plant Drought Resistant CA Natives - Drought resistant California native sages thrive when planted in fall. It's easier for roots to become established when soil is warm, air temperatures are cooler and precipitation is increasing. Ask Mr. Sage is a regular feature of the Everything Salvias Blog and is based on calls and emails from customers. Ask Mr. Sage: What Is Shipping in Boxes Like for Salvias? - It's understandable to worry about the condition of plants following shipment in a box. However, Flowers by the Sea Online Plant Nursery is exceedingly careful to make sure your plants arrive in healthy condition. A satisfied customer sent us the photos in this article. Step by step, they illustrate the process of unpacking and hardening off FBTS plants received by 3-day ground delivery more than 1200 miles away from our Northern California farm.