October 14, 2008

Garden Inspiration: Salvia Leucantha

From zone 8 in southeastern Virginia, Vikki (aka “Vikki1747” on GardenWeb Forums) sent me photos of her fabulous garden. One of the great things about participating in the gardening forums is the opportunity to get to know other gardeners. I had the pleasure of meeting Vikki in September when she came down to Raleigh to the Garden Conservancy Days. Vikki and three other gardeners from the forums met me for lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch, we came back to my home for a nice afternoon of gardening talk!

I don’t grow salvia leucantha in my garden. I tried it a few years ago at another house and it didn’t overwinter here in zone 7. Of course, I’m tempted to try it again since I have a full sun garden at my current home.

There are a few varieties of salvia leucantha, such as ‘Santa Barbara’ PP#12949 rated for zones 7b-10, according to a local nursery. The ‘Santa Barbara’ is a short form that is supposed to be 2 feet high x 4 feet wide.

Otherwise, most salvia leucantha or Mexican sage, is rated for hardiness in USDA zones 8-10. It is a native of Mexico and Central America. The foliage grows all summer and then it puts on a fabulous display in autumn, just when you want more blooms in the garden. This sage likes full sun, but part shade in the afternoon is fine. Mexican Bush Sage can tolerate drought. In the frost-free zones, this can be an evergreen bush. Elsewhere, it behaves like a perennial by dying back in winter and reappearing in summer. In areas with frost, the plant should not be cut back until spring. It can grow 2-4 feet in width and height.

Vikki uses her salvia in a mixed border with shrubs, perennials and annuals. The different foliage shapes and textures combine well for interest across the seasons. She has balanced the size of the plants to flow through this "island bed" providing us with a wonderful garden inspiration. I have a few more garden inspiration photos from Vikki for tomorrow.

Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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