0

Your Shopping Cart

Your cart is empty.

Salvia Small Talk: The Gardens and Sages of Alcatraz

Jul 18, 2014

Salvia Small Talk: The Gardens and Sages of Alcatraz

Winnifred Gilman was a volunteer who coaxed plant cuttings to root at San Francisco's Strybing Arboretum. To honor the plant propagator, the Arboretum named a newly discovered Cleveland Sage for Gilman in 1964. Her name has traveled far and wide due to the popularity of the intense violet-blue flowers, long bloom time and drought resistance of Salvia Clevelandii 'Winnifred Gilman'.

Winnifred Gilman Sage even lives on Alcatraz Island (aka "The Rock") -- once the location of a federal penetentiary but now a national park. The Garden Conservancy and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy share maintenance of the island's gardens. Winnifred Gilman is one of a number of sages that volunteers have used to rehab the Alcatraz gardens, which first were planted beginning in 1865.

The Garden Conservancy is a national organization that provides horticultural know-how and financial support to a wide variety of gardens nationwide that it calls "fragile treasures."

Alcatraz is fragile partly due to its thin layer of soil that the National Park Service says originally supported "sparse native grasses and shrubs." Its gardens also need support, because they were abandoned for more than 40 years following the prison's closing in 1963.

During the Civil War in 1863, the U.S. government established Alcatraz as a military post to protect San Francisco Bay and Northern California from Confederate invaders. It quickly transformed into a military prison and, in 1934, a federal penitentiary.

Military and civilian prisoners helped maintain gardens on Alcatraz with the help of topsoil taken from its neighbor Angel Island. Rehabilitation of a number of historic gardens began about 2006.

To add long-blooming color as well as drought tolerance, Gardens of Alcatraz manager Shelagh Fritz and volunteers have planted a number of Salvias. Aside from Winnifred Gilman, the plants include:

Writing at the Gardens of Alcatraz blog, Fritz says that frost is a rare occurrence on the Island, so plants seldom go dormant. However, in letter to Flowers by the Sea in March, Fritz notes that the winter of 2014 was unusually "cold and dry." Nevertheless, Fritz adds, all the Salvias did well. She selected them when seeking "tough plants that would bloom reliably all summer and into our dry fall."

Alcatraz is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It is open to tourists throughout the year except on Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Transportation is via ferryboat. For more information about visiting Alcatraz, click here at the National Park Service. If you are interested in volunteering as a gardener, please contact the Gardens of Alcatraz.

For more information about super tough Salvias, please contact FBTS.

Comments

There are no comments yet.

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.