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Tricolor sage – image (c) Cheryl Shanahan

Confession: when I left my first marriage, there were tears. Many of those tears fell because I mourned things I had left behind. I sometimes cried hardest about my forsaken sage plants. It might sound like a bit of an overreaction, but I was uprooted and I missed things that grounded me  – namely plants I had successfully raised (mind you: this was in my “Black Thumb” era. ANY gardening success was hailed as a huge botanical victory in my book).  I missed the earthy smell and velvety leaves of my beloved sage.

Fast forward many years: I am resettled and thriving like a happy plant. In establishing my mark on gardens in my new home, one of the first additions to the lineup was salvia officinalis.

Many people don’t enjoy sage outside of seasoning their Thanksgiving stuffing with it, or if they eat a lot of sausage (sage is the magical note in your Jimmy Dean links). I throw chopped sage into mixed greens or (if I’m living on the edge), I like to saute whole sage leaves in browned butter (a simply yummy sauce with which you can coat homemade ravioli!).

Even if you don’t care for the taste or fragrance of sage, you might connect with the plant for many of its other fine qualities: it’s heat and drought tolerant, and it makes a pretty addition to a border.

The above plant caught my eye at a recent plant sale at my local botanical garden. The “run of the mill” sage has pale green, silvery leaves. The “Tricolor” sage has pretty splotches of greens, creams and lavenders. Next May or June, it will send up light blue flowers that will attract butterflies.

What sage likes:

  • full sun
  • well-drained soil that’s on the dry-side (yes! my little lovely plant is drought-tolerant once it’s established)