• A garden seasoned with Autumn sage

    by  • November 28, 2011 • Fall, Garden, Plant Profiles • 9 Comments

    Autumn sages, Salvia greggii, are low key shrubs most of the year. In cool seasons these evergreen mounding sages shine and give us blooms for a long period adding radiant color to the garden. Right now in my garden they are still in full bloom and it reminds me to buy more! I’d love to try taking cuttings from them.

    True and pure red Autumn sage

    True and pure red Autumn sage 'Flame'

    Autumn sage is an herbaceous perennial native to Texas but very suitable to mix with our native Californian plants. It was named in 1870 by botanist Asa Gray, and in doing so he honored Josiah Gregg, an early American explorer and botanist. It comes in many colors, white, pink, magenta, salmon and red and even blues and purples. There are new varieties bred for improved summer flowering, too.

    Salvia greggii 'Mesa Azure' is stunning, I think

    Salvia greggii 'Mesa Azure' is stunning, I think

    Deer don’t touch these in our garden where the animals abound. When they bloom, I’m reminded to plant other autumn blooming plants near each one to multiply the color that I appreciate so much right now.  Pineapple sage, Copper Canyon daisy or Tagetes lemmonii, and fall blooming grasses like Miscanthus or our native deer grass would look well in combination with Autumn sages.

    This red has striking black stems

    This red has striking blackish stems

    Salvia greggii 'Flame'

    Salvia greggii 'Flame'

    Magenta Autumn sage, Salvia greggii 'Lipstick', in the box Elder bed glows against the forest beyond

    Magenta Autumn sage, Salvia greggii 'Lipstick', in the box Elder bed glows against the forest beyond

    Including an Autumn sage in most planting beds is a great idea for extending colorful bloom, like one I posted about which has a native Box elder, red Autumn sage, a Curlicue sage, which is really an Artemisia, and a puff of Brachyscome multifida. Now when the tree is nearly leafless, the Autumn sage is a star, blooming brightly.

    Cushiony Brachyscome multifida has a thousand tiny blooms

    Cushiony Brachyscome multifida has a thousand tiny blooms

    One perfect companion is an often overlooked cool season low-grower called Brachyscome multifida or Cut Leaf Daisy. A periwinkle blue flowering perennial and deer resistant, it contrasts beautifully with some of the bright magenta Autumn sages.

    Cut leaf daisy or Brachyscome multifida

    Cut leaf daisy or Brachyscome multifida

    Blue Oak Sage, Salvia chamaedryoides exactly matches my broken blue Bauer pot

    Blue Oak Sage, Salvia chamaedryoides exactly matches my broken blue Bauer pot

    Another sage that resembles Autumn sage very closely and blooms at the same time is Germander Sage or Blue Oak Sage, Salvia chamaedryoides.  It’s a wonderful hardy sage, as well, and has the benefit of true blue color.

    Blue Oak Sage, Salvia chamaedryoides

    Blue Oak Sage, Salvia chamaedryoides

    A red and magenta sage on either side of some native Bear Clover, Chamaebatia foliolosa

    An orangey red and a magenta sage on either side of some native Bear Clover, Chamaebatia foliolosa

    Care is easy for this sage,…you really only have to prune and shape it to be bushy and full. It needs little water, but planting it near a bit of afternoon shade can help keep it lush through the hot summer. Use hand clippers and snip each branch at a slightly different length for a more natural-looking effect.

    Penstemon ‘Violet Dusk’ near a red Autumn sage

    Penstemon ‘Violet Dusk’ near a red Autumn sage

    Pretty hot combination, huh?

    Pretty hot combination, huh?

    This year, after planting Penstemon ‘Violet Dusk’ near a red Autumn sage, I found that they bloomed long and prettily together after other blooming plants had faded away.  They made bright and vivid spots in the garden.

    This Penstemon 'Violet Dusk' was one of my bargain $1 plants planted last fall.

    This Penstemon 'Violet Dusk' was one of my bargain $1 plants planted last fall.

    About

    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.

    9 Responses to A garden seasoned with Autumn sage

    1. Katie
      November 28, 2011 at 5:06 pm

      Look at your beautiful salvias! What a nice November show. I bet you still have lots of humming birds too. I’ve seen the Blue Oak sage all over town this month and wondered what it was. Thanks for the id!

    2. November 28, 2011 at 5:43 pm

      I love Salvia greggii! I’m growing Salvia greggii ‘Nuevo Leon’ here, and have for a few years. It started by accident when a threw some seeds out into the garden from a friend because I was tired of moving them around my kitchen. It was a mixed assortment, but the only thing that came up was the Salvia, and it’s returned each year. It’s not always evergreen here, but always comes back, and our deer don’t touch it either! I saved some seed this year, and hope to propagate much more of it. I haven’t tried cuttings, but I expect those would be easy too. I haven’t tried the Germander sage yet though, but I do love the color.

    3. Des Harding
      November 29, 2011 at 1:17 am

      I have missed visiting your wonderful garden, Sue. Even though I have tried joining as a follower, a few times, I never get post updates on my Blogger Reader page. Life had become so busy around here these past months with the pups, that I actually forgot to access your blog via my bookmarks page, which I seldom have cause to view, it being so busy around here (yes, I said that already…just wanting to emphasize for effect).

      Anyway, I am so pleased you came by, since it prodded that diminishing grey matter of mine into reminding me that I was long overdue with a visit to your blog. As always, this is another lovely and informative post. I have the magenta salvia, but did not know it originates from Texas, or that there are so many other lovely colours. Your penstemon is gorgeous!

      I hope you and your family are well. Please post about the wedding 🙂 You sound as though you’ve been even busier than I thought I have been. Hugs xoxo

      • November 30, 2011 at 6:16 am

        Thanks, Katie!I do have hummingbirds still, so nice that they stay so long. I’ll have to look for Blue Oak salvia in town,…I haven’t seen it there. It and all of these sages are so easy care here.

        How nice, Desiree, to find that you have some of the same plants there….makes the world seem smaller and people closer together some way. Hope the subscription works this time. If I could just remain logged in to Google ID I could comment much easier…as it is I’m often kicked off and have to rewrite my comment. Hugs to the sweet pups.

        Clare, I will have to look for “Nuevo Leon’,…it looks wonderful and a bonus that it grew from seeds! I have found that the Germander or Blue Oak sage does reseed occasionally. I will have to look for the seed from all these.

    4. Monica Tudor
      November 30, 2011 at 4:06 pm

      Hi Sue, How far are you from Intermountain Nursery? They had some Nuevo Leon blooming before Thanksgiving, it has the most beautiful blue flowers. Oh, and the seeds you sent are all in the ground. Now to wait for spring.

    5. December 6, 2011 at 8:20 am

      Hi Monica, I’m fortunate to be only 45 minutes away from Intermountain,…a great nursery that has Mediterranean and CA native plants. I hope you’ve been able to go there! I’ve planted my seeds from you, too! Good luck to us, huh?

    6. Pamela
      November 6, 2013 at 7:58 am

      I live in Columbus Ohio what zone am I in and would these work
      where I live, they are just beautiful

    7. Pingback: An ideal plant list for a new Sierra foothill garden | Sierra Foothill Garden

    8. Stephanie Knapp
      November 6, 2016 at 7:42 pm

      Hi Sue,
      I really like the orangey red Salvia greggii shown next to Bear Clover on your post of November 28, 2011. Do you happen to know what cultivar this is? It seems more orange than ‘Flame’ or ‘Furman’s Red’ and darker than some of salmon colored plants I haver seen online. I also live in the Sierra Nevada at nearly the same elevation as you, but further north. I am in Camino, also known as Apple Hill, off Highway 50 at 2800′.

      Thank you,
      Stephanie Knapp

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