leonie cornelius

LEONIE CORNELIUS & FRIENDS
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salvia-leonie-cornelius-weekend-magazine-irish-independent

Soothing Sage

 

You really know it’s sumer when you see the elegant tall spires of Salvia start to blossom in the border. These butterfly and bee friendly plants are part of the laminaceae family which is native to the Mediterranean region. Most people will probably recognize the name Sage as well known, culinary herb, whose slightly peppery flavour goes so well with fish dishes as well as our christmas Turkey, where it is often used in traditional stuffing recipes.

The name Sage comes from the Latin ‘severe’ which means ‘to save’ and has been used since ancient times for warding off evil, cleansing and much more. It has also been used for many health ailments such as asthma and respiratory problems and Sage is also said to be great for the skin.

My own first encounter with this gorgeous, flowering herb was during a year that my parents and I spent living on the small island of Ithaka in Greece. On the dry rocky slopes of the hills this herb had its ideal conditions and spread wildly over the landscape, its woody scent so strong in the sunshine, its spires set off amazingly by the azure blue of the Mediterranean sea.

The plants I have chosen for this week are the ornamental species of Sage which are commonly referred to as Salvias. These fully hardy perennials look very similar to the original sage but give an even more impressive display of colour. The plant likes well draining soil and do best in full sun-they are great choices for a window-box or a pretty container.  Here I have planted up two different varieties from Homeland.ie in one large oval container.

This plant combination gives a great display of colour layers, with the small pinks of the Salvia Nemerosa ‘Sensation Rose’ building a lower layer of dusty pink and bleeding up in stages to the elegant tall spires of the Salvia x Superba.

The ‘Sensation Rose’ variety is a very pretty dwarf version of Salvia, with compact, basal branches that bear numerous spires of beautiful dusty pink. It flowers from June to October and are very tidy in their growing habit with its eventual size no more than 35cm.

The Salvia x superba is very different in stature and colour. Its intense violet blue flower spikes flower from early to late Summer and can grow up to 90cm high. They also do well in containers and as long as the plant has well-draining but humus rich soil it will give an impressive display of colour in any garden.

For both these Salvias, I would recommend to remove any flower heads as soon as they fade and water and feed regularly. This will keep the flowers coming all summer long and make this one of the most rewarding sunshine plants in the garden.

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