Wacky Spring Is in the Air; FBTS Goes on the Air

Hi. I'm Alicia, editor of Salvia Guru and staff writer for the Everything Salvias Blog of Flowers by the Sea. I live in the Rocky Mountain West and telecommute to work at FBTS, a horticultural farm and online nursery on the Northern California coast.

FBTS sells plants nationwide. So I pay attention to climate and weather throughout the nation, trying hard to understand differences coast to coast and within states. But as a telecommuter, I'm not always in tune with weather in what I too often think of as balmy Mendocino. For example, on April 6 while the high was 63 degrees F here, it was 94 degrees on the farm at a time of year when 60 degrees is more likely. By the end of that long, searing day, FBTS co-owner Kermit Carter sent me an email so terse it seemed parched. Three of the words were "We are dead." Dead as in exhausted beyond comprehension from endless work and unrelenting heat.

Now, on April 15 as I relentlessly type, type, type and peek out windows to check on changing conditions, I'm the one with unusual weather on the way. Another big snowstorm may occur thanks to what meteorologists call an "omega block" due to the opposing warm and cold fronts looking somewhat like the Greek letter omega. While it's predicted that the West Coast and Midwest are due for an almost week-long block of unseasonably warm weather, the Mountain West and the East Coast should be soggy. (Day-After-Publication Note: The snow is here but has skipped the East Coast.)

Another thing that is wacky for me is being far from the farm yet experiencing its crazy, punishingly busy schedule at the fastest moving season of the year. So I have to point out that when Garden America interviewed Kermit on April 10 (please see the podcast link), it was a rare event. They say that breaking away from work is hard to do, well now I know, I know that it's true. (My apologies to Neil Sedaka, who you can view at One more note about the podcast: The hosts asked Kermit about the South African plant Salvia africana-caerulea, which is magnificently blue and drought tolerant. It's pictured here.

Another link takes you to the California field trials earlier this month for a view of many new, drought-resistant plants that will be in garden centers soon. They include the FBTS hybrid Salvia VIBE® 'Ignition Purple', which Greenhouse Grower Magazine has praised as a top pollinator plant.

Now, on to the songbirds and Brits, both of which love salvias and both of which appear a number of times in this issue. The Carters and I follow lots of songbirds in our respective gardens and lots of British gardeners and botanists on Twitter. That's how we met Rare Plant Fair. Its post includes several lovely photos of salvias that flourish in the U.K. (and, I have to add, many areas of the U.S.).

As to the links about peat and fertilizer, each may get you to thinking about conserving these resources. Many kinds of organic matter can be substituted for peat, which is becoming scarce. And lots of salvias prefer prefer garden soil that isn't fertilized.

Thanks for taking a peek and don't forget to keep us growing by passing Salvia Guru on to gardening friends. Now, I'm off to check out the weather again and decide whether anything needs covering.

Photo Credit: Salvia africana caerulea, FBTS.

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