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A Time of Pleasant Anticipation

Spring equinox will be at 6:28 EST on March 20 -- a time when daylight will equal darkness. It's pleasant to anticipate longer hours of light in the garden. In cold winter areas, gardeners begin clearing leaf mulch from flower beds and noting what plants are beginning to make return debuts. That's what I intend to do.

I'm Alicia, a Colorado gardener who telecommutes as a writer and editor for Flowers by the Sea, which is located on Northern California's Highway 1 not far from the tiny village of Mendocino. Differing species of salvias are native to varying climates around the world.

It's too bad the stunning, 6-foot-tall, Ecuadorian Salvia leucocephala pictured here isn't cut out for Colorado. It's a winter bloomer that isn't built for frosty weather. This challenging warm-zone perennial currently is flowering like a champ despite wild winter storms that pummeled its coastal Central California home with master gardeners Bracey and Richard Tiede.

The Tiedes purchased their plant from FBTS, which grows many international sages as well as California and American natives. Most do well as perennials on the farm, but some tender perennials (aka "annuals" in cold winter areas) are more reliable as annuals, such as Tropical Sage.

Scientifically known as Salvia coccinea (see the story link below), Tropical Sage is an example of a rapidly growing, long blooming native of the American South, Central America and South America. It needs spring planting and a bit of shade during summer in hot places like Colorado. I'll be experimenting with it this year as an annual.

What garden experiments do you plan? If you want to share, please give us a buzz at FBTS (http://www.fbts.com/contact-us/). We enjoy hearing about your garden adventures with salvias and other mint family plants.

More immediately, we hope you'll enjoy the links here about topics ranging from adaptive gardening to protecting wild bees. Please tell gardening friends about free subscription to Salvia Guru, which covers many Salvia-related topics, including conservation of beneficial wildlife.

Photo Credit: Salvia leucocephala, Richard Tiede, Master Gardener.

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