Purple Blooms

Continuing with the color theme, today the focus is on purple, the color of royalty.

bloomingnow3This Jackman Clematis (Clematis jackmanii) was chosen because it is reported to be a good clematis choice for our area.  Other clematis have prettier and more complex flowers.

bloomingnow1After its initial flourish of flowers, it hasn’t bloomed again.  Clematis is supposed to be an easy vine with lots of blooms.  So I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.  Maybe it needs fertilizer.

bloomingnow2I do like the color and size of the blossoms.

bloomingnow7It’s crazy that some Larkspur are still blooming.

bloomingnowdMexican Petunias (Ruellia simplex) really are purple.  I don’t know why these look pink in the picture – probably the strong sun.  Can’t get any easier than this plant.  The biggest problem is that they spread with underground runners.

bloomingnowfAnother winner is Henry Duelberg Mealy Cup Sage (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’).  The flowers are all gone now.  But I just trimmed them back for a second blooming this summer.

bloomingnowvI love the look and smell of Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).  The color is too subtle for some people’s taste.  But the soft pastel blends in well with stronger colors.

bloomingnowwGregg’s Blue Mistflower (Eupatorium greggii) is also a light purple, almost a lavender.  It’s pale color makes it look bland except for all the butterfly activity.  That gets one’s attention.

purpleDeep purple African Violets is the prettiest violet, in my opinion.

white3One stalk of French Hollyhock (Mallva sylvestris ‘Zebrina’) survived from the rust fungus.  It was actually not in the flowerbed, but just outside the yard in the weeds.  I transplanted it, so we’ll see what happens next year.

Flowerbeds5This is the flowerbed that I was going to be cautious and not over plant.  Who knew the bushes would get so big and the flowers reseed and multiply so well?  Not me, obviously.

purple3The Texas Bluebells (Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum) are especially tall this year.  All the rain in May made everything abundant and hardy.

flowers8Such a pretty flower.

purple5The Blue Curls (Phacelia congesta Hook) has been like a Jack in the Beanstalk plant that just keeps getting taller.

purple6Unusual flowers and foliage make it an interesting plant in the yard.  It’s another purchase from Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  One of those impulse buys without much knowledge of its characteristics.

Purple robes may have belonged exclusively to the kings, but fortunately, we can enjoy it where ever we wish, including our gardens.

“The problem with internet quotes is that you can’t always depend on their accuracy.” Abraham Lincoln, 1864

Sage or Salvia?

When a plant is called by two different names, it can be confusing.  Since I’ve heard Sage and Salvia applied to the same plants, I got curious to know if there is a difference between the two.  So I decided to investigate.

This post will be considerably longer than most.  But I hope you find my results as fascinating as I did.  Many of you are well versed in this information, so thank you for your indulgence.

salvia8Mealy blue sage, Mealy sage, Mealycup sage, or Blue Salvia is in the Lamiaceae (Mint) Family.  Bees love it.

The botantical name is Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’.   Like other non-scientific types, when I hear the Latin names, I have flashbacks to high school biology that brings shivers down my spine.

But these scientific names is key to understanding the question about sages and salvias.

The plant classification system used today was developed by a Swedish Scientist, Carolus Linnaeus, in the 1700’s.  He put plants into groups based on similarity of form.  The categories for living things are Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Series, Family, Genus,  Species, and Variety.

Only Genus and Species concern us to answer our question about sages and salvias.  These two names are the ones listed for each plant.  The first name is the genus and should be capitalized.  The second name is the species name and is not capitalized.  Sometimes a variety follows the species name to show a slight difference from the classified plant.

The answer to the question:  A sage can be a salvia, but not all sages are salvias.  Let’s see why.

salvia9Salvia is the largest genus of plants in the Lamiacae or mint family with nearly 1,000 species of shrubs, herbaceous, perennials, and annuals.

If a sage is the same as a salvia, it must be in the same salvia genus.  There is no genus for sage.

salvia6This is Texas Sage, also known as Purple Sage, Cenizo, Texas ranger, Texas Barometer bush, Texan Silverleaf, and Silverleaf.  This is the sage that is most associated with the Southwest and is the one referred to by Zane Grey in Riders of the Purple Sage.

This sage is also in the Lamiaceae or Mint Family.  But its botanical name is Leucophyllum frutescens.  So the Purple Sage is not a salvia.  Although it is in the same family, it is not in the same genus.

salvia7Although many of us grow this sage in mid to north Texas, it is not winter hardy and must be cut to the ground if freeze damage occurs.  It does better farther south than my zone 7b area.

salviaOne of the most popular sages the past few years and readily available in most nurseries is Salvia greggii.  They are available in different shades of red – such as Cherry, Navajo Bright Red.  There is even one called Lipstick.

Did you notice the word Salvia in its name?  So this sage is a salvia.

salvia2These are perennials that are drought tolerant and visited frequently by bees and other propagators.  Salvias are hot weather plants with square stems.  Many bloom from spring through first frost.  They do need some water to look their best.

Many salvias are scented, have flowers that grow on tall spikes above the foliage, and are attractive to many pollinators.

salvia3A sage that I love that is not a salvia is Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).  Its scent when leaves are rubbed is one of its great characteristics.

salvia4Bees love Russian Sage.  It is hardy and has a long blooming season.

salviaaAnother sage that loves our climate is Mexican Sage (Salvia leucantha).  It, too, is a sun lover.

Did you automatically look at the genus name?  I’m training myself to do that.

salviabHummingbirds feast on it.  One of the things I like about it is the velvety look, which is actually tiny hairs that cover it.  These hairs help reduce water loss.

It’s a perennial that must have plenty of sun.  It tends to get leggy and some branches can break if they get too heavy with flowers.  Just trim it as necessary.

salvia azureaThis is Prairie Sage, Pitcher Sage, Azure Sage, Giant blue Sage, or Blue Sage (Salvia azurea)  It’s another good plant for Central Texas and even further west.  Salvia flowers come in shades of blue, red, white, and yellow, although rarely yellow.

The defining characteristic of the genus Salvia is the unusual pollination mechanism.  Salvias have two stamen rather than the four of most flowers.  The covering of each stamen is divided down the center, but connected. salviagraphicWhen a pollinator enters the flower probing for nectar, which is found deep in the flower, this pushes the posterior anther.  This causes the stamens to move up, which then deposits the pollen on the back of the bee or other pollinator.

salviapollinatormechanism3As the pollinator withdraws from the flower, the lever returns the stamen to its former position.   Then when the pollinator goes to another flower, the pollen can only be transferred if the flower’s stigma is bent down in a general location that corresponds to where the pollen was deposited on the pollinator’s body.

salviapollenThis gorgeous photo and the next one by Dave Leiker show the stamen lever mechanism in action.

beepollen2

salvia involucrate 'Hadspen'This Big Mexican Sage or Roseleaf Sage (Salvia involucrate ‘Hadspen’) grows in zones 7 to 11.  Another salvia on my wish list.

Most salvias and sages do well in Texas.  Generally, most salvias need minimal water and soil that drains well.  Also, cutting them back slightly, about a third, in mid summer brings new blooms.

There are even a few tropical salvias and some that survive in colder climates.

So science really is the answer to the question “Is it a sage or a salvia?”.  Both names can apply to the same plant if the genus is salvia.  If the genus is different, it’s only a sage.

Both sages and salvias are terrific plants for most of Texas and many other parts of the US.

Thank you for taking the time to read this far.  You are great to have persevered.  Please leave comments if you have other information about this subject.

Following my usual closing with a quote is a list of different salvias and sages.  Whenever I could find the information, I listed the hardiness zones.  Maybe you’ll find one that you’d like to try.

“The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny …’” Issac Asimov

Sages:
Lamiacea Family (mint family) Genus Salvia:

Arizona sage, Desert indigo sage – Salvia arizonica
Zone 5 – 7
Autumn Sage, Cherry sage, Gregg salvia – Salvia greggii
Zone 7 – 9
Belize Sage – Salvia miniata         Zone 10 – 11
Bi Color– Salvia sinaleoensis        Zone 8
Big Mexican Sage, Roseleaf Sage – Salvia infovucrate           Zone 7 – 11
Big red sage, Penstemon sage – Salvia penstemonoides     Zone 6 – 10
Black sage, California black sage – Salvia mellifera                  Zone 6 – 10
Black & Blue Sage, Brazilian Sage, Blue Anise Sage, Majestic Sage – Salvia guaranitica ‘Black & Blue’       Zone 8 – 11
Baby Sage – Salvia microphylla                     Zone 7 – 11
Blue sage – Salvia pachyphylla                      Zone 6 – 9
Blue Shrub Sage – Salvia ballotaeflora          Zone 7 – 11
Bog Sage – Salvia uliginosa                           Zone 6 – 10
California sage, Chia Golden chia – Salvia columbariae          Zone 7 – 10
California white sage, White sage – Salvia apiana   Zone 9 – 10
Canyon sage – Salvia lycioides          Zone 6 – 9
Cedar sage – Salvia roemeriana         Zone 7 – 10
Clary Sage – Salvia viridis                    All US zones
Clary Sage – Salvia horminum               Zone 3 – 10
Clustered sage – Salvia whitehousei                    Texas native Zone unknown
Creeping sage – Salvia sonomensis         Zone 7 – 10
Crimson sage – Salvia henryi A. Gray          Texas native
Death Valley Sage, Woolly sage – Salvia funereal                  Grows near Death Valley
Desert indigo sage, Arizona sage – Salvia arizonica              Zones 6 – 11
Engelmanns sage – Salvia engelmannii        Zone 7 – 9
Fragrant sage, Blue sage, Cleveland sage – Salvia clevelandii Zone 8 – 10
Fushia Sage – Salvia iodantha              Zone 8 – 11
Grey Shrub Sage – Salvia chamedryoides        Zone 7 – 10
Indigo Spires – Salvia ‘indigo spires’              Zone 7 – 11
Isla Hummingbird sage, Pitcher sage, Crimson Sage – Salvia spathacea           Zone 7 – 11
Indigo Spires Sage – Salvia Indigo Spires            Zones 7 – 11
Lanceleaf sage, Mintweed – Salvia reflexa        unknown zones
Lemmon’s sage – Salvia lemmonii                     unknown zones
Lyreleaf sage, Cancer weed – Salvia lyrata L.    unknown zones
*Mealy blue sage, Mealy sage Mealycup sage, Blue Salvia – Salvia farinacea         Zone 7 – 11
*Mexican Bush Sage – Salvia leucantha              Zone 8 – 10
Mountain sage, Royal Sage – Salvia regal          Tropical zones
Munz’s sage San Miguel mountain sage, San Diego Sage – Salvia munzii          Zone 8 – 11
Nettleleaf sage, Nettle-leaved sage, Wild sage – Salvia urticifolia L.           SE US
Pineapple Sage – Salvia elegans              Zone 8 – 11
Pink Little Leaf Sage – Salvis Grahamii        Zone unknown
Pitcher sage, Big blue sage, Azure sage, Giant blue sage, Blue sage, Priarie Sage – Salvia azurea             Zone 4 – 9
Purple sage, Gray ball sage, Dorri sage, Desert sage – Salvia dorrii             Zone 5 – 9
Scarlet Sage, Tropical Sage, Blood sage – Salvia coccinea   Zone 7b – 10b
Scarlet Sage, Red Sage – Salvia splendens      unknown zones
Shrubby blue sage, Blue Shrub Sage, Mejorana – Salvia ballotiflora       unknown zone
San Luis purple sage Purple – Salvia leucophylla  Zone 6a – 10b
Scallopleaf sage – Salvia vaseyi          High desert elevations

Mint Family (Lamiaceae) Sages that are not Salvias:

Bladder Sage, Paperbag bush, Heartleaf Skullcap – Scutellaria Mexicana                       Texas and La. native
Bladder Sage, Mexican bladdersage – Salazaria Mexicana     Zone 8 – 20
Island pitchersage – Lepechinia fragrans      California endangered plant
*Russian Sage – Perovskia atriplicifolia             Zone 4a – 9b

Aster Family (Asteraceae) Sages that are not Salvias

Big sagebrush, Great Basin sagebrush – Artemisia tridentate Zone 4 – 9
Black sagebrush – Artemisia nova A. Nelson           Zone 4 – ?
Beach sagebrush, Beach wormwood, Sand hill sage – Artemisia pycnocephala           Zone 9 – 10
Bud sagebrush, Budsage – Artemisia spinescens   Semi-desert
California sagebrush, Coastal sagebrush – Artemisia californica Zone 7 – 10 coastal
Louisiana Artemisia, Louisiana sage, White sage, Prairie sage, Silver sage, White sagebrush, Louisiana wormwood, Silver wormwood, Louisiana sagewort, Gray sagewort, Cudweed sagewort, Mugwort wormwood – Artemisia ludoviciana            Zone 5 – 10
Prairie sagewort, Prairie Sagebrush, Frienged sage, Pasture sage – Artemisia fridiga             from Mexico to Siberia
Silver sagebrush, Coaltown sagebrush, Dwarf sagebrush, Hoary sagebrush, Silvery sagebrush – Artemisia cana Pursh    Southwest US

Sages in Other Families that are not Salvias

Periennial buckwheat, Wright buckwheat, Wild buckwheat, Bastard sage – Eriogonum wrightii          Zone 5 – 10
Buttonsage, Button-sage – Lantana involucrate       Zone 8a – 11
Jerusalem Sage – Phlomis fruticosa           Zone 7 – 11
Royal penstemon, Royal beardtongue, Sagebrush penstemon, Sagebrushtongue – Penstemon speciosus       Zone 5 – 10
Sagebrush buttercup – Ranunculus glaberrimus Hook.      Western US
Texas sage, Cenizo, Purple sage, Texas ranger, Texas barometer bush, Texas silverleaf, Silverleaf – Leucophyllum frutescens  Zone 8 – 11

What’s Blooming

Although most things are not in full bloom in the yard, there are some flowers.  Enough time has elapsed since our last freeze to access the losses from the winter.  Dead trees and bushes have been pulled up, so it’s time to enjoy some the freshness of spring.

yardsummerstartxThe Mexican Feather Grass  (Nassella tenuissima) came through all that cold like a breeze.  This is a Texas native from the Trans Pecos area that tolerates limestone based soils – hooray.

yardsummerstartkThis time the dark clouds actually materialized into some rain: an inch last week and almost two inches yesterday and this morning.  Time for a happy dance.

Beside the larger Mexican Feather Grass are some green new clumps that came up in several places.  I transplanted them close to the parents so there will be an even fuller display swaying in the wind.

yardsummerstartyHenry Duelberg Salvia (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’) or sage is a reliable plant that spreads and puts on a show every year.  The first three tiny plants were put in eight years ago.

yardsummerstartzIt blooms from spring until the first freeze in the full sun.  And that’s Texas sun!  This one deserves the Texas Superstar status it has and is for anyone who needs a drought tolerant, hardy bit of color.

yardsummerstartwThese Gopher Plants were planted a month ago.  There are several different botanical names for plants that look like this.  The only thing I know for sure is that it is an euphoriba.  I had heard that it was a good plant for this area and is from the Mediterranean region, which usually means drought tolerant.

The Gopher Plant name comes from the fact that they are poisonous to gophers.  Wouldn’t they also be poisonous to other animals?

yardsummerstartvSince I bought it (and I had to search for it), I’ve read that it does not survive in clay soils.  Oh, well.  I’m watching it closely to see if it needs to go into a pot.

Note the single grass like green shoots behind it.  These only grow in this area and plague me.  I’ve pulled and sprayed.  Nothing seems to work.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.

yardsummerstart8The Balloon Flowers are starting to open.  For eight years, they have done very well, but they don’t spread.  I’ve read that they also do not survive dividing.  So I finally bought a few more to fill in the space.  It seems that no nursery in our area carries Balloon Flowers, so these were bought at Lowe’s in the metroplex.

The other stems with lacy leaves are some Larkspur that came up in this bed.

yardsummerstart7Another reliable sight each year is the Mexican Bird of Paradise.

yardsummerstart6More Larkspur in another bed.  I let them bloom where ever they appear since they perk up any flowerbed.

yardsummerstartThis Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra) is my prize for the year.  This is a gorgeous wildflower that grows in bar ditches. It is also called Texas plume, Red Texas Star, or Red Gilia.  Two years ago I bought a few at the Lady Bird Johnson Center plant sale.  This is the first time any have bloomed.

yardsummerstart2Love, love their brilliance.

yardsummerstart3The tubular flowers look similar to some other plant blooms, like Acanthus, but the color is stronger.  Just doesn’t get any prettier.

“Do one thing today for someone.  It may not mean much to you, but it might mean the world to them.”  Unknown

Soft Hues

Although I generally prefer bold colors in the landscape, softer ones can make the reds and yellow pop.  More muted colors can also provide a calm feeling.

desertsageThis year the rains we had in June helped the Desert Sages perform like I’ve never seen them.  This is actually a Cinizo (Leucophyllum frutescens) even though we all call it a Texas Sage or Desert Sage.  It’s not even in the sage family.

Absolutely gorgeous.

desertsage3The two above photos show a Desert Sage bush in one flower bed that has flowers with a pinkish tint.

desertsage2This Desert Sage is in a different place.  It’s color has a more purple hue.  It’s amazing how full it was with blossoms.  That’s why in nature, they burst out in color after a rainstorm.  Then very quickly turn back to a silver green foliage plant.

hdulburgsageHenry Duelburg Purple Salvia (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’) is one reliable plant.  For seven years it has bloomed and spread to fill a 11′ x 5′ bed from two small plants.  It’s a favorite of bees.

dscn2155Speaking of pale colors, this bird that sways in the wind is slowly rusting away.  Note the metal fork that balances in that tiny trough.  Strong wind may twist it around or have it hanging by one prong, but it has never fallen to the ground.

plumbagoIt is confirmed that this plant is a Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata).  I posted an earlier picture and wondered about its correct identify.  But recently I saw one at a nursery and feel sure it’s a Plumbago.  All summer it has bloomed like crazy.

indigoferaThis plant was purchased at an independent nursery in Abilene.  I’ve not seen another one.  It was not labeled.  When I asked for a name, it took a long time before someone came to tell me it was an Indigofera.  I’ve looked at pictures of Indigoferas on the web, but they don’t look like this plant.  So, I don’t know for sure what this plant is.

indigofera2The leaves are tough and feel like a succulent.  It grows low on the ground spreading out.  The flowers that resemble Balloon flowers before they open don’t last long, so it’s difficult to see the whole plant in bloom at once.

russiansage4Another great performer is Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).  I first saw this bush in Santa Fe at a family gathering.  All my sisters and I were asking everyone what it was.

russiansage2Hey, I figured if it survived in the dry climate of northern New Mexico, it would make it here.  These have flourished and spread over five years.

They even dry well, and the flowers look pretty much the way they look while living.

russiansage3As the stems are moved around, they have a similar scent as other sages, like the popular ones with  small red flowers.  One is shown to the left in the first picture of the Russian Sage.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  But how can one not appreciate the glories of nature.

“Pride is a steamroller.  It’ll clear the path for a while, but sooner or later it’ll shift into reverse, and then…look out.”  The Sea Glass Sisters by Lisa Wingate

Before the Hail

Four inches of rain week before last and six inches last week.  Wow.  What a miracle.  There was also lots of hail that knocked out two windows and damaged trees and plants.

In the garden, some things were shredded by the hail or knocked down.  Usually, there’s a mass of day lilies blooming at this time in two different beds.   Those were beaten down just as their buds were ready to open.

So most of the pictures in this post were taken before the hail.

purplesageHenry Duelberg Salvia (Salvia farinacea “Henry Duelberg’) is one of the hardiest salvias I know about.  It is also called Mealy Sage.  Seven years ago three small plants were put in this raised flowerbed.

This salvia blooms well into the fall.  Swarms of bees buzz around it.  I used to be afraid to pull weeds in the area, but the bees just circle around me, only interested in the plants.

yellowpoppyThis Texas Yellow Primrose (I think) was planted a year ago and continues to bloom and spread out.

yellowflower2

steerA friend watched intently as each photo was snapped.

yellowrosesAll the roses seem to bloom at the same time, no matter what their variety.  It’s like a fairy has sprinkled the flowers on the bushes overnight.  They all die about the same time. Then there is a period of rest before they all are filled with flowers again.

These two bushes with yellow roses are floribundas.

climbingroseThis Madam Norbert De Velleur climbing rose bush has gorgeous clusters of small roses.  Even though I can’t find this particular rose on the internet, I’m reasonably certain its name was copied correctly when it was bought three years ago.

larkspurLarkspur seeds from a friend yielded a great crop.  In fact, they popped up in several flowerbeds around the yard.  That’s okay because they are so cheery.

larkspur2In fact, this is the plant that received the most comments when our Garden Club met here in May.

gladiolasFirst gladiolas of the season just started blooming.  Continuing beauty from such a small investment for bulbs four years ago.

gladiolas2One of the great things about gladiolas is the tall stalk with lots of buds.   The buds start opening from the bottom up.  So as a cut flower, as the bottom flowers wilt, they can be pulled off.  Usually, I cut the stems shorter at that point.  This allows them to last about a week or longer with fresh looking flowers.

The hail is a good reminder to enjoy each day as it happens.  Back to the old adage of taking time to smell the roses.

“When told the reason for Daylight Saving time the old Indian said, ‘Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket.'”  Author Unknown