(Hardy Jerusalem Sage) A hardy, drought tolerant herbaceous perennial, this fine plant rewards you with tall spikes of rich pink whorled flowers in early to mid Summer. A Salvia relative is native to grasslands of Turkey, Iran and Siberia.
A personal note - I tried for two years to successfully germinate seed of this plant. In the Spring of 2009 I finally succeeded, and these strong, well established quarts are the result. I hope you enjoy this plant as much as I do.
(True Blue Echium) Hot pink buds become a profusion of gentian blue flowers from spring to fall in this spectacular member of the borage family. Its homeland is the Island of La Palma, one of the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa.
Although heat- and drought-tolerant, True Blue Echium prefers the balmy summers of its mountainous homeland, the rocky slopes of the volcano La Caldera de Taburiente. Temperatures there approximate those of San Francisco during summer.
The plant’s foliage is equally eye-catching with its red stems and blue-green leaves with cream stripes. It makes a dramatic background planting, groundcover, perennial border or dry garden standout.
You can grow True Blue Echium in a container as well, but select a deep pot for its long roots and expect it to grow smaller than its in-ground size of 4 feet tall and wide. Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds are all attracted to this long blooming, true blue beauty.
(Mango Popsicle Hot Poker) This genus has become very popular in the last few years - for good reason. They feed hummingbirds & honeybees, and attract butterflies. And this superior variety from Oregon's TerraNova Nurseries is compact, free blooming and amazingly hardy.
In 2011 and 2012 we grew dozens of the new Kniphofia varieties, and only a few stood out from the pack. This is absolutely our favorite. One of our nursery friends in Portland, Oregon said that it continued to bloom through January, even though the foliage was covered with a foot of snow.
We don't grow many non-Salvias, and when we do it has to be special. This is one of those very, very good new plants. A must have plant.
(Chagual) When in bloom, Puya venusta looks like a fireworks explosion of royal blue flowers and red bracts shooting up on a thick stem from a rosette of silvery green, bayonet-shaped leaves that curve sinuously.
In Latin, venusta means handsome or charming. The stem of the flower spike and the bracts can vary from pinkish red to flamingo pink. While the flowers and bracts of Chagual look like a splashy party dress, the basal foliage is seriously handsome.
Puyas are native to a number of South American countries. Puya venusta grows in semi-arid lands from the Chilean coast to rocky slopes in the Andes. Chagual grows at altitudes up to 1,500 feet. Its lanky flower spikes, topped with pinecone-like clusters of blossoms and bracts unfurl to reveal trumpet-shaped blossoms rich in nectar. Honeybees and hummingbirds are regular visitors. Perhaps deer avoid these plants due to the spiny margins of their leaves.
Chagual looks otherworldly, like something that might grow on the windy, dusty landscape of Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles.
Similar to Puya alpestris it grows about chest high. However, it spreads further. Drought resistant and fond of full sun, Chagual is a good accent planting, background border or groundcover in a dry garden. Wear gloves and protective clothing when weeding around it.
Puyas are part of the Bromeliaceae family, which includes the subfamily known as the Bromeliads and includes pineapples. Although many sources refer to pineapples as being the only edible Bromeliad, that isn't accurate. In South America, the fleshy hearts of Puya flowers are frequently shredded -- similar to cabbage in cole slaw -- and eaten in salads.
(Balkan Sage) Violet-blue whorls of flowers and plentiful, fuzzy, basal leaves that reach an impressive length of 18 inches are two notable features about this hardy, herbaceous perennial, which is native to the Southeastern Balkan Peninsula.
Balkan Sage is found in coniferous forests, meadows and slopes from Bulgaria to Turkey's Black Sea coast. However, it is named after the 19th century Finnish plant collector Peter Forsskål, who collected botanical samples further south in Saudi Arabia.
Although deciduous in areas with cold winters, it blooms about nine months a year for us on the Northern California coast beginning in summer. Following a brief winter dormancy, it returns reliably every spring, clumping in a way that makes it look like Hosta from a distance. Yet, unlike that woodland plant, it grows well in full sun as well partial shade. It is a fine choice for a lightly shaded garden or border and is happy in the acid soil under conifers.
Give it soil with average fertility, occasional water and enough shade to promote lush growth. Your reward will be large flowers with lovely white and yellow bee lines attractive to hummingbirds and honeybees.
(Purple Majesty Sage) This exceedingly long blooming hybrid is a cross between Salvia guaranitica spp (Anise-Scented Sage) and Salvia gesneriiflora (Mexican Scarlet Sage).
Purple Majesty has fragrant, lush, mint-green foliage and a profusion of deep purple flowers that bloom from early summer until frost. We also love its lush, mint green foliage.
Its height (up to 5 feet), upright habit and long, tubular flower clusters (8 to 12 inches) make it an obvious choice for back of border. However, planted in mass, it also makes a good screen in damp areas.
Give Purple Majesty full sun to partial shade. It should be pruned nearly to the ground in late winter to maintain a tidy, shapely appearance and to encourage vigorous new growth in spring.
Hummingbirds love Salvia (sage) nectar and are attracted to it by the bright colors of tubular sage blossoms. In particular, these little whirlybirds can easily spot flowers in the red spectrum, which is prevalent among sages. Here are some hummingbird gardening tips.