A Healthy Garden

The day we were in the community garden in Menard, butterflies were everywhere – one sign of a healthy garden.

gardenmenard6A Southern Dogface Butterfly is enjoying the Zinnias.

gardenmenard5Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia Leucantha) has a wonderful velvety texture and butterflies gravitate to them.

gardenmenardaA Pipevine Swallowtail also like the Zinnias.

gardenmenardbWhat is it about butterflies that is so spellbinding?  The fact that they are fragile?  Always in motion?  Or just plain gorgeous?

gardenmenardThis garden has many purposes besides looking pretty.  It provides raised beds for citizens to rent for growing vegetables.

gardenmenard1Some okra pods look ready to be picked.

gardenmenard7Our group of Master Gardener students was here specifically to learn about water conservation.  In a demonstration, Billy Kniffen pours water into four different plastic boxes on top of a rack.  The water then flows down into other boxes on the lower shelf that have drain pipes.  The purpose of the demo is to show how much water pours out of the pipe and how quickly it empties out.

What is planted in the ground makes a difference for water absorption.  The bin on the left has native prairie grasses growing, which allows the rainfall to soak in, and the long roots of the grasses leads the water further into the ground, replenishing the water table.

gardenmenard8The next container is turf sod or grass like what is used in most yards, which allows some runoff.

Then there is a container that has very little growing in it.  Bare ground becomes hard and doesn’t absorb water, which then washes away even more soil.

This shelter and some other small sheds have gutters that direct rainwater into water storage tanks.

gardenmenard9The last container has a house.  Sponges are placed around the house.  Once they have soaked up water, then it will gradually seep out.  He suggested having water permeable hard surfaces to prevent water runoff.  Replacing concrete with other materials like gravel would help.  There are products that have a strong enough surface for walking or even parking a car, but have holes that allow water to pass through.  Those have been in use in Europe for many years.

Manufactured permeable blocks that look like concrete are available, but are extremely expensive. Hopefully companies will come up with ways to produce more affordable materials.

gardenmenardcLarge ornamental grasses similar to the native prairie grasses hold water and are good choices for landscaping.

gardenmenarddAnd of course, every garden needs pretty plants like Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus drummondii).

Enjoy the butterflies in your garden now before cold weather comes.

“You can’t fix stupid, but you can vote it out.”  unknown

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Menard Community Garden

Menard, Texas, is a small town with concerned citizens.  One couple has taken on the project of educating children about gardening through the Junior Master Gardener program.  They have classes for students from kindergarten through junior high.

This couple also maintains the citys Marjorie Russel Education memorial garden.

menardgarden5Following a relatively wet year, the garden has grown tremendously.  My husband and I were there in early spring this year to help other volunteers do clean-up to get ready for the new season.

menardgardenOn this visit with the Master Gardener students who were finishing their course for certification, the garden was alive with butterflies.  Bluemist Flowers (Conoclinium coelestinum) is a must have plant for central Texans to attract butterflies.  I admit that I’m prejudged about this plant because it has been so successful in my own yard.

menardgarden1A Viceroy butterfly busy feeding.  In front of the Blue Mist Flower is Artemisia, another wonderful plant.

menardgarden2Monarch butterflies absolutely must have milkweed plants to survive.  This tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) is one of the showier milkweeds that is a beauty in the garden.  Unfortunately, mine freeze each year and don’t return.

On the right are rose hips from spent roses.

menardgarden3Lots of Zinnas are scattered throughout the garden.  Anyone who says they can’t afford plants should consider buying cheap zinna seeds.  The flowers reseed, so they keep on giving.

menardgarden4Behind the zinnas is Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) which adds another dimension of form and texture to the garden.

menardgardencThe layers of plants, even with their intertwining, appeal to me.  Guess I just like a jungle look.  Not for everyone; I understand.

menardgarden6Not only do the Junior Master Gardeners meet here and plant their own plots, anyone in the community can rent one of these plots for $10 to $30, depending on what they can afford.  The city provides the water, and the couple in charge do the watering.  What a deal.

menardgarden8Another popular plant that appeals to pollinators is Salvia Greggii.  Not sure what kind of butterfly this is.

menardgarden7I think this is a Black Swallowtail.

menardgarden9This Salvia Greggii is called Lipstick.  The grower that came up with this name had quite an imagination.

menardgardenaBluemist Flower usually has lots of dead blossoms.  Doesn’t seem to bother the butterflies.

menardgardenb

menardgardendThere are several fruit trees in the garden, including this Fig.   Many of the plants and trees have been donated.

menardgardeneRock Rose (Pavonia lasiopetala) is a hardy Texas native with small flowers.

I admire people who give of themselves to their communities.

“Trump and Clinton are like divorced parents fighting over custody of us. And we just wanna live with Grandma.”  unknown

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

San Antonio Botanical Gardens

Last week I was in San Antonio for a two day plant seminar.  On the third day we had a tour of the Botanical Gardens.

sagardens014The gardens opened in 1980, so the trees are mature and the garden is well established.  It has an old world feel to it.

sagardens1This is a Barbados Cherry bush (malpighia emarginata) that has  matured.  Compare it to the puny little one I have in a pot.

sagardens3And there are the red berries I was expecting to see.

sagardens2Little Ruby Alternanthera (Alternanthere ‘Little Ruby’) is a smaller, more compact version of the traditional Joseph’s Coat.  It is perennial in warmer areas and can be grown in full sun or light shade.

sagardens4Bamboo Muhly in the back is cold tolerant to zone 8.  With airy, light frothy branches, it is pretty in the wind.

sagardens8Bamboo Muhly works well next to drought tolerant plants.

sagardens5Everyone’s  favorite:  Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) needs a more tropical climate than we have here.  Since San Antonio is further south,  many tropical plants can survive there.

Caesalphinia pulcherrima means very pretty.  And it is that.

sagardens6Can a plant be more cheerful than this one?  The colors are so bright that it’s visible from a distance.

sagardenscA large group of plants in different size pots made a bold statement.  While I didn’t recognize many of the tropical ones, at the bottom, the light green is a annual potato vine.

sagardense

sagardens9

 

sagardensdThe green plant in the center with small red flowers on long stems is Red Potterweed or Pink Snakeweed (Stachytarpheta mutabilis).

sagardensbWith zone envy, I had to remind myself over and over that I am happy with the plants that I can grow.

sagardensa

sagardens9

sagardensRight off the bat, this bush grabbed my attention.  I learned that it is a Blue Potterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis) from South Florida.

sagardens7The thickness of this Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) convinced me that I should cut mine back in the spring and trim it throughout the growing season so it will branch out more.

sagardensekkYellow Jacobinia (Justicia aurea) grows in full shade to light shade and is not cold hardy below zone 8.

sagardensfA really cute little gardener statute.

sagardensgWith a huge tropical plant in the center, this display will lead us further into the tropics.

The plant in the foreground might be Black and Blue Salvia.  Not sure about the yellow flowers id.

The next post will be in the lush part of the gardens.

“This is maturity:  to be able to stick to a job until it’s finished; to do one’s duty without being supervised; to be able to carry money without spending it; and to be able to bear an injustice without wanting to get even.”  unknown

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

Heritage Farms

The last week in October the Evant Garden Club traveled on a day trip to the Heritage Farms in Waco.  They graciously invited me to tag along.

The Farms are comprised of a group of families with a religious affiliation and a common life philosophy.  They are vague about their beliefs except that family is a core value.

cafeThe man on the porch of the cafe was our tour guide.  He looked to be in his thirties and has seven children.

Most of the land is owned commonly.  The children are all home schooled.  The women and girls wear loose plain dresses.  The men and boys wear jeans and commercially made shirts.  Much of the information about the community comes from a short video shown to visitors.

candleThis lovely Candle Bush (Senna alata), also known as a Candelabra Bush, Empress Candle Plant, Ringworm Tree, or Candletree is a medicinal tree.  It is native to Mexico but can grow tall in the tropics.

heritagefarmA bed of assorted blooms including impatiens and asters.

heritagefarm3The families of the Farm believe in living off the land and creating what they need.  This pottery demonstration shows one of their skills.  Many items that are produced are sold in the gift shop.

heritagefarmbMy first impression was how neat and manicured the whole place is.  Of course, we only saw the public areas, but the homes and farm lands are probably just as immaculate.

heritagefarm5The flowerbeds were impressive.

heritagefarm7The buildings have an old world quaintness.

heritagefarm4The wood working demonstration stressed the art of handmade furniture using dovetailing rather than nails.

All the different shops provide classes for the public.

heritagefarm8So neat and trim.

heritagefarmaMexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) – I definitely want one of these.

heritagefarmcI couldn’t figure out this building, but it looks like a storage place.

gThe smithy shoes the horses and makes other needed iron products.  They also do commissioned jobs.

Community barn raisings are another source of income.  They have bought old barns in the northeastern US and reconstructed them replacing damaged parts with authentic replications.  Some projects are done for their property and some for customers.

heritagefarm9We also visited the shop where spinning, weaving and sewing is done.  My pictures didn’t turn out, but the information given was fascinating.  I learned a lot, especially about flax.

heritagefarmdThe grain mill is powered by water, show above, and electricity.

heritagefarmeThis is inside the mill.  They sell bags of mixes for breads, muffins, etc.

heritagefarmfPride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) stands out against a wall.

heritagefarm2Back to the cafe where there is another Candle Bush.  We ate lunch there.  With everything made from scratch, it’s a long, leisurely lunch time.  They were busy, even on a Tuesday, with many large groups touring.

A great day of enjoying a calm, serene atmosphere and learning about crafts not practiced by many today.

“The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways.”  John F. Kennedy