Saturday, June 26, 2010
Pretty Purple Sage!
I love sage. Not necessarily as a culinary herb, although it certainly has its uses.. but I love the way it creates a huge drift of colour at the entrance to the kitchen gardens.. It blooms for about 4 weeks from late spring into early summer and attracts every beneficial insect, pollinator and butterfly from near and far.
Just yesterday, a large Painted Lady Butterfly (where does that name come from?!?) fluttered by as I was just finishing up in the garden. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera, but I did stop for about 5 minutes just to enjoy the sight of the large butterfly hopping from sage flower to sage flower. Of course, there were also plenty of big fuzzy bees - some of the largest I've ever seen - buzzing around and sticking their heads deep into the purple flowers..
Sage is a perennial sub-shrub that hails from the Mediterranean region of the world and therefore prefers a warm and sunny location with well-drained soil. It will grow about 1 to 2-feet tall (taller when in bloom!) and spreads to 3 - 4 feet wide (mine are about 4-feet wide now and are 4 years old).
In the past, my sage plants have died out after about 2 or 3 years, thanks to a combination of cold winters and wet feet. Now that I've found a nice warm spot on a gentle south-facing slope, they are in their glory! A sage plant in full bloom is so striking that it deserves a place in every perennial border, herb garden and veggie patch.
Frequent harvesting and pruning is actually a good thing for sage, as it can get a bit leggy without a regular haircut.. I tend to give it a light trim just after bloom, removing the spent flowers and a few inches of the branches. The leaves are a lovely silvery colour and hold on to the plant throughout the winter..
Still on the fence about sage? Let me offer one more tidbit - it's bothered by few pests - even deer! As long as you give it a sunny, well-drained spot, sage should thrive in your garden, attracting beneficial insects and pollinators to your veggies!