Books, Nurseries, Capitol

On a recent visit to the Texas Book Festival in Austin, we made stops at some nurseries.  No surprise there.

In the parking lot of a nursery, this flaming red Celosia is a magnet.  This one is probably Dragon’s Breath Celosia.  Celosias are annuals, so I don’t plant them much.  I would love to get Celosia to reseed.  Anyone know a trick?

This Texas native Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) spreads and flops but has beautiful bright flowers.  In full sun, it stands more upright.

An unusual characteristic is that it grows well in arid West Texas and in boggy Houston, which is in extreme Southeast Texas.  A versatile plant that is hardy and grows in the sun or shade.

A stand of these natives were also in the parking lot.  Maybe it’s Threadleaf Groundsel?

Inside the nursery, this Dwarf Thurderhead Japanese Black Pine (Pinus thunbergii ‘Black Pine’ ) grows naturally in ball tufts.  Could be a nice focal point in a garden.

Mealy Blue Sage (Salvia farinacea (Lamiaceae)) is a hardy native perennial.  Love the deep purple.

Another beauty is Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha), which grows extremely well in the mild winters of Austin.  It freezes in my area.  I do love the soft velvet look.

Grasses have used in many public and some private landscapes for several years. Finally, I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and want more in my yard.  There are so many varieties available now that it’s difficult to choose.

Every fall the book festival is held in the capitol building and in many large white tents set up on the streets around the capitol.  Authors from all over the US and some from abroad talk about their subjects.

It’s a haven for book lovers.

The artist for this cowboy sculpture was a New Yorker who created it in the early 1900’s.

Here’s Mexican Bush Sage used in the landscape.

Several monuments are scattered in the large area surrounding the capitol.

This monument honors the southerners who died in the Civil War.

Not that I’m prejudged, but this is a beautiful capitol building.  Inside, the impressive dome area and other public areas make it worth a visit.

“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”           P. J. O’Rourke

Cooler Temps

Twenty degrees makes a world of difference.  From 95 degrees to 75 degrees recently has perked up everything.  It’s nice to have the weather match the calendar.

Also, we were blessed with six inches of rain.

coolautumn6Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is a winner.  It was named a Texas Superstar by Texas A & M in 2011.  And that it is.

coolautumn7Pictures of the garden really points out flaws.  In this photo I noticed the Hackberry tree growing in the Salvia Greggi.  I have since cut it down.  Behind the salvia is hardy Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)  and several different rose bushes.

coolautumn8In front is Double Delight rose, then Tropicana rose with tall Knock-Outs in the background.

coolautumn5Purple Aster didn’t perform very well this year because it needs to be divided.  I’ve read that should be done in early spring.

coolautumn3The dead pods on the Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)  are beginning to bug me.  I was leaving them as food for birds this winter.  But I decided to cut the heads off and leave them in the flowerbed.  Then the stems can be eliminated.  That way the birds can forage on the ground, and the dead plants are not an eyesore.

The Strawberry Gomphera (Gomphrena globosa) bloomed in the spring, hot summer, and now into autumn.  Even though they are small, their bright color gives a great bang for the buck.  They also reseed generously.

coolautumnaMexican Petunias (Ruellia simplex) are still going strong.

coolautumncThey don’t bloom with a great mass, but the delicate tubular flowers on the ends of tall stalks are pretty.

coolautumndCannas have revived with some red flowers.

coolautumneBlue Mist Flower (Conoclinium coelestinum) fuzzy puffs continue to draw butterflies.

coolautumnfA few flowers remain on Pink Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri), but leaves have dropped off.

coolautumnkDuranta (Duranta erecta) is a hot weather plant but has seemed to like the cooler weather.  Love it.

coolautumnmWhat is prettier than these clusters of tiny purple flowers?

Several potted plants still look good:

coolautumnhRussian Sage, Turk’s Cap, and Kolanche in pots provide some color.

coolautumniFinally, the Bougainvilla has a few blooms.  Don’t know what the problem is, but thes are the first flowers this year.  Probably didn’t fertilize it.

coolautumnjAfrican Bulbine’s (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’) flowers wave in the wind.  All of these potted plants will have to go into the shed for the winter.

hibiscusHibiscus is looking good.  The wet weather is agreeing with it.

hibiscus1Love the color of the flowers.

hibiscus2This tropical Hibiscus has been in this pot for eight years.  The beautiful flowers make it worth hauling into the shed each winter.

coolautumnoIce Plant will die back during the winter.  I used to always have a start inside, but it has come back from the last two winters, so that doesn’t seem necessary.

ContainerPlants1Purple Oxalis (Oxalis triangularis) or False Shamrock has been in this pot for years.

coolautumn1Last week I was working at the Brady Master Gardener’s Butterfly Garden.  I thought that Monarchs had already passed through this area, but I was obviously wrong.

coolautumn2I love Maxamillan Sunflowers (Helianthus maximiliani) with lots of flowers on each stalk.  They grow in the bar ditches around here.

The cooler weather is great, but it also means winter will be here soon and flowers will be gone.  But winter is what makes spring so special.

“Holding a grudge is letting someone live rent free in your head.”  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

Insects in the Garden

As I water, weed, or deadhead, it’s always a joy to see the insects enjoying the garden along with me.

Like this bee on Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia).

Or this one on Mealy Cup Sage (Salvia farinacea).  There seem to be several different kinds of bees in our yard.  In fact, according to an article in the July, 2012 “Birds & Blooms”, some of these might not be bees but hover flies or robber flies.  They distinguish them by their wings, antennae, eyes, mouthparts, and behavior.  I personally haven’t gone out with the list and gotten up close to try to make that identification.  I respect their space.  They just look like bees to me.

So far, I’ve been able to work in the flowerbeds without them bothering me.  Only one time did a single bee come at me.  I was just walking in the yard.  It dove at me several times buzzing around my head, so I went inside.  After 30 minutes, I went out again with the same problem, so I decided it was best to stay inside until it left the area.

Love the butterflies that swarm over a whole area of the garden.

This dragonfly seems to be partial to one area of a flower bed with some late blooming gladiolas.

This Monarch butterfly feasts on Blue Mistflower (Conoclinium Coelestinum).  All these little buzzing and flittering creatures is another reason gardening is so satisfying.

“Great are the works of the LORD: they are pondered by all who delight in them.”  Psalm 111:3