Monday, 17 November 2014

Tombola Sage

I won this gorgeous fuzzy purple sage in a tombola (lucky dip) at the annual Verneuil plant fair in May this year. It was just labelled as sauge bleu, and I was assured it was a most beautiful plant. I love blue and lavender coloured sages so was perfectly happy, even though it was clearly something easy to propagate as the tombola prize room had dozens of them. I was expecting something like an inferior form of Salvia guaranitica, the stunning tall royal blue South American sage which I also have in the front courtyard.
What I got was completely unexpected. The flowers are white, with extraordinary fuzzy rich purple lavender calyxes. It is still flowering in mid-November! It is clearly a thoroughly gardenworthy plant.
A quick trawl around the interwebs tells me that it is Mexican Sage Salvia leucantha. I'd never encountered this plant before and I am really surprised. Obviously everyone who has one loves it. My only complaint is that in its native Mexico, hummingbirds find it very attractive and will visit eagerly to nectar at the flowers. Why haven't I had hummingbirds? I want hummingbirds.

I'll try and propagate it for anyone who reads the blog and has a garden in the Touraine who might want it. Email me if you are interested.
Loire Valley Nature: An entry has been added to help you understand and use the extensive system of walking trails in France, with links to sources for maps (printed and online).


  1. Yes please, Susan...
    it looks wonderful!
    We'll swap then for one [or more] of our giant-leaved sages...
    that one that is now three feet across outside the front door....
    and is useable as cooking sage...
    it has huge flowers, too!
    Your tombola prize will look very good down the side of the barn with the lavender and "Peristroika" plants.

  2. Salvia leucantha is only moderately frost hardy according to my diggings. A late frost may kill off the foliage but it will try to shoot again. The received advice is to take cuttings overwinter just in case. Pauline

  3. Er - you can smoke it, apparently. Should you want to. Pauline

  4. Pauline: None of those South/Central American sages are more than moderately frost hardy in my experience. They are also not terribly long lived, so cuttings and seeds is always a good idea.

  5. What a glorious colour it is and for this time of year too! If you do manage to propagate some I'd love one please.

  6. That is so pretty, love the 2 colours together, hope it survives the weather there.
    At the mention of culinary sage, my mouth was watering....burnt butter sage and Pumpkin or mushroom rissoto, yuuummm.

  7. Margaret: I'm fairly hopeful it will survive.

  8. We had that plant in our back yard in San Francisco all those years ago and people called it Mexican Sage. It never freezes in San Francisco, though there can be a light frost from time to time.

  9. Ken: Did you get hummingbirds coming to it? I'll be green with envy if you did!

  10. Susan, yes we did. Many of them in summertime.

  11. Ken: ooooo you lucky things!