Thursday, June 05, 2014

The Growth of Clary Sage

Clary is a Unique Sage in my Garden

Clary sage (Slavia Schlerea) is quite different from the other other sages I grow. I had no idea to expect when I planted it. It's lush flower spikes surprised me. Best known historically as a remedy for getting foreign matter out of one's eyes with its seeds, it also can be used in the kitchen, but is not as versatile there as the other sages are. Pregnant woman should avoid it, and no one should mix it with alcohol.   I only grow clary sage to add beauty to my summer garden. 

The Growth of Clary Sage
Clary Sage Bud, May 25

My Experience with Clary Sage in the Garden

I first planted my clary in a pot in my yard in Templeton. A couple of years ago I brought the pot to our Paso Robles home. It bloomed there last year. Then it appeared to die down and I thought it was gone. I've since learned it can be biennial (blooming the second year and then dying) or perennial. 

After this year's rains, it came back and started to grow again. On May 25, I snapped the photo of its first bud of the season, which you see above.

Within a week, the buds had turned into the flower spikes you see to the right. The plant is still in the original pot. I am hoping it will reseed. It reseeded once three years ago, but the weed abatement man thought it was a weed and dug it up. He tried a day later to pot it, but the roots had been exposed too long to make a recovery.

The Growth of Clary Sage
Clary Sage in Bloom, Early June

Other Sages I Grow

I also grow tricolor sage, to the left in the photo above. I can't recall if I ever saw it bloom. Most sages bloom in June, but so far I've never seen so much as a blossom on this potted plant. I have seen the more established plants in Templeton bloom. I made this greeting card on Zazzle with it pictured in bloom next to common sage. 

It could be the tricolor variety is on a different timetable than other sage varieties, in spite of what the books say. The Missouri Botanical Garden website says tricolor sage should bloom in May or June. The flowers are supposed to be lavender or purple and quite showy. They should be hard to miss. Maybe tricolor sage has different blooming dates in Missouri. 

My common sage, pictured below, has been blooming since at least April in my Templeton herb garden as has been my black sage in both gardens. My watermelon and Spanish sages have also been in bloom since at least May. You can see them, in addition to the black sage, pictured in my post on what blooms at the end of May

The Growth of Clary Sage
Common Sage in Neglected Herb Garden, © B. Radisavljevic

Have you ever grown clary sage? If not, would you like to? What is your favorite variety of sage?  Please feel free to leave your feedback in the comment box below the share buttons. 

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Monarda Didyma (Bee Balm) Is Blooming

I planted this mother monarda didyma plant last year on June 14.  It stayed mostly low to the ground, competing for space with all the gazanias surrounding it. I had to dig out a clearing in the middle of the gazanias. You can see the monarda (bee balm) freshly planted there near the center of the photo. That was a good year for gazanias, which bloom yellow, but they don't bloom as much in this partial shade as they do in full sun all day. 

I planted the bee balm here because I wanted its red flowers to contrast with the green and yellow around it. It took the monarda longer to bloom that first year. The flowers were few. Maybe all that competition from the gazanias hurt it, and I had planted it later than I should have. In the photo below you can see how it looked in its surroundings when it did bloom. The photo was taken in the middle of August. The bee balm flower is the one rising in back over the other flowers. The photo is a bit over exposed so the red color is faint. The flowers in front are opal basil, borage, catmint (in the pot), African basil, and calendula. 

During our very cold winter, most of the gazanias died back, as did all the basils, leaving less competition. In the early spring.  I thought the monarda had died, too. I didn't see it anywhere. I thought this was a perennial plant, but I've never had it last more than one year.

This spring, several monarda plants sprung up in a row. The mother plant must have reseeded itself. I saw the first bud on May 25. See it in the photo to the right? I took the photo from the back of the flower bed looking out toward the dying lawn. 

To the right of the foreground is my mullein, with the very large leaves, which I planted last year. It's a biennial which should bloom this year. I think it was attacked by a tomato hornworm I found on a borage plant in this flower bed. I have the snails under control.

You can see the row of blooming monardas below. They almost appear to be dancing. Some of the gazanias in back are reviving, but not enough to give my bee balm much competition. I hope my bee balm reseeds again next year. I would like to have an entire clump back there next June. 

I grow monarda primarily for its ornamental value. I'm also hoping it will attract hummingbirds and bees as it is supposed to.  My Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs  tells me bee balm flowers are also tasty in salads and the leaves are good for tea. I just may experiment with the culinary uses of monarda this year. 

Have you ever grown monarda? If so, it it meet your expectations? Have you used it in the kitchen or for medical conditions? I'd love to have you share your experiences. 
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