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How Do We Love Thee, Autumn Sage?

Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) is a native of the American Southwest that is adaptable to other regions of the country. It was one of the many species discovered by Josiah Gregg (1806-1850), a self-trained naturalist who was a Santa Fe Trail entrepreneur as well as a guide and Spanish translator for the U.S. military during the Mexican-American War.

Gregg died the same year that Elizabeth Barrett Browning published her famous sonnet "How Do I Love Thee," which expressed the depth of Browning's love for her husband. Both Gregg and Browning were passionate. But accounts of Gregg's life that we've encountered only indicate his passion for botany.

It's understandable to feel passionate about the beauty of plants, especially ones that bring so much long-lasting color to sparsely vegetated, dry lands. To paraphrase Browning, we'll count some of the many ways we love these sages: (1) They flower in many colors. (2) Their airy, mint green foliage is fragrant. (3) Depending on where you grow them, they may flower from spring through fall. (4) Hummingbirds, bees and butterflies love them. (5) Due to tolerating drought, they grow well where watering is limited. They're ideal for dry gardens. (6) They defy conditions that would be adverse for most garden plants, and (7) They have a great back story.

Similar to Boise, Idaho, which you will encounter in one of our links, Flowers by the Sea is far from the Southwest. However, we grow lots of Autumn Sages and related hybrids at our Northern California farm and online nursery, including the Ultra Violet Hybrid Sage (a wonderfully cold-tolerant plant) pictured here. We love them, and that's enough reason to devote almost an entire issue of Salvia Guru to their praise.

Photo Credit: Bouquet of Salvia lycioides x greggii 'Ultra Violet', Alicia Rudnicki, FBTS

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