(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.
(Mother Fern) Ferns are low-maintenance plants that add a tropical look to the Salvia garden. This one grows well in USDA Zones 9 to 11. Mother Fern, which has a graceful, arching look and finely cut fronds, loves partial to full shade and lots of water. This makes it an excellent choice for damp, shady Southeastern gardens.
Due to its arching nature, Mother Fern only measures 24 inches tall and looks particularly pretty with short Asian woodland sages and Salvias for warmer winter climes, such as the Rosy Bract Sage (Salvia rubiginosa), which has cool, violet-blue flowers. In addition to ample water, Mother Fern needs rich soil.
The bulbiferum appellation of its scientific name, refers to the fern’s production of plantlets on the tips of its fronds. These babies drop off and grow into new plants, which explains the common name of Mother Fern. Another common name for this fern is Spleenwort. Whereas wort is Old English for “plant,” spleen refers to the fern’s ancient role as a medicinal plant.
In the wilds of its Australian and New Zealand homelands, this deer-resistant plant grows as an epiphyte on trees and fern trunks as well as a rooted plant along shady rock croppings and waterways. Epiphytes don’t harm their host plants, because they only rely on tree trunks and other structures for support. When epiphytic instead of rooted in the soil, ferns consume nutrients and moisture drifting in the air. Tarra Bulga National Park in Victoria, Australia, is home to many Mother Ferns.
(Jerusalem Sage) This lovely herbaceous perennial is native to Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank. Its clear pink flowers transition at times to a pink highlighted with violet lines and dots. Prominent glandular hairs on the buds, bracts and floral stems exude a fragrance that is delightful on a warm day.
"Hierosolymitana" is related to the Greek word "hieros," which means holy and the Latin name for Jerusalem, "Hierosolyma." Palestinian Arabs sometimes use its leaves as a food wrap, similar to grape leaves. Jerusalem Sage needs full sun. Heat and drought tolerant, it seems to prefer being a bit dry.
A short species that works well as a groundcover or border plant, Jerusalem Sage forms a basil rosette of mid-green leaves that gradually spread about 18 inches. It blooms on and off throughout the growing season and seems especially generous in spring and fall.
As with so many sages, this one is not appealing to deer.
(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.
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.
If you live in suburbs or rural areas where deer plunder gardens, Salvias (sages) can be part of your plan for discouraging these hungry visitors. Here are some tips.