Patience in the Salvia Garden

Gardening often is an act of faith and patience. We might have to wait a number of growing seasons before a landscape starts taking shape or one of our plantings begins to flower.

I think it was summer 2013 when I first planted Salvia pachyphylla 'Blue Flame' -- commonly called Giant Purple Desert Sage or Mojave Sage. I loved the pictures of it I had seen that year at Salvia Summit II, a gathering of botanists, growers and home gardeners who love the Salvia genus. But my plant shriveled up and died long before first frost.

I was inspired to try again when I saw the plant thriving in the afternoon shade of my neighbor's yard. I know, I know. Salvia pachyphylla is supposed to be a full sun perennial that loves gravelly, well-drained soil that is so dry you might say it is parched.

But two years after my first attempt, I decided to plant two (power in numbers) in a different location, placing them next to a bush for a bit of afternoon shade. Colorado's combination of high altitude and hot summer temperatures can be hard even on sun-loving plants. (The picture illustrating the "Resources for Dealing with Drought" link shows them in their first season.)

I also did a better job of amending my clay soil with gravel and planting early in the growing season. And, I was careful to water sparingly after my plants were in the ground for a few months.

So partial shade, gravel, more time to establish roots, just the right amount of water and voilĂ ! Flowering is underway. Who knows which action was most important?

Certainly patience and persistence aid success. Keep that in mind when you dip into the links here whether propagating salvias from cuttings, improving plantings for small wildlife, landscaping for drought resistance, gathering ideas at public gardens, gaining order in your gardens, maximizing minimal growing space or planting late in the season for pleasure next year.

Meanwhile, we'll patiently continue cultivating readership at Salvia Guru and thanking you for helping us spread word about free subscription.

Photo Credit: Salvia pachyphylla, Alicia Rudnicki, FBTS.

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