Salvia Somalensis

A decade long drought in South Eastern Australia has seen gardeners demanding alternatives to tender annuals that turned their toes up when water restrictions were imposed .. and none of this compromise on colour and form nonsense!

Salvia Somalensis

Salvia Somalensis

We want interesting yet tough plants dammit! May I present Salvia somalensis, a native of the mountainous regions of Somalia. That makes it super-tough and so water-miserly you’d think it was part camel.

Pretty blue flowers for most of the year and foliage that boasts an interesting musky-floral perfume make it a nice specimen plant.

Pineapple Sage (Salvia Elegans syn S. rutilans)

Salvia Elegans in Autumn

Salvia Elegans in Autumn

We don’t (yet) have smell-a-vision, so you are missing part of the true joy of this plant. Remember “Honeymelon” whose fragrance so beguiled me that I had to bring it home (Oct 2008)? It is now about thriving in a semi-shady spot, nestled against the back steps where I can find frequent excuse to brush against it. An unnamed cultivar (possibly “Scarlet Pineapple”) with bright lime coloured leaves lives by the front door for pretty much the same reason and “Golden Delicious” with it’s chartreuse yellow/green foliage is destined to go under the Lemon Verbena.

Salvia purpurea

Close up of a flower bract

Close up of a flower bract

This is the first year I have grown this lovely Salvia, and I am impressed.  I obtained the cutting in early Spring, planted it in the shelter of an Hibiscus, and crossed my fingers. To my delight, this is no prima donna. For seven months it has quietly gone about it’s business, in spite of minimal watering or attention through drought, competition from the Hibiscus and record breaking heatwaves that claimed the lives of several of its desert-descended brethren.  In early May I noticed the first of many lovely purple flower bracts shyly reaching for the sun.  I will move it once it finishes flowering however, as its current position close to the front path means it gets a battering from passing traffic.. especially the bins.

Salvia Guaranitica

Salvia guarinitica flower closeup

Salvia guaranitica flower closeup

Common Names; Anise-scented sage, Blue Anise Sage, Hummingbird Sage, Brazilian Sage

My introduction to this plant was during one of my regular evening constitutionals.  The perfume from the plant on a warm evening stopped me in my tracks (much to Fuzzbutt’s annoyance). I followed my nose until I found the royal blue flowers nodding a greeting.  That it was a Salvia destined to join my collection was apparent.. but which Salvia?? Aha.. the game was afoot!  Enquiries at the house were met with polite shrugs,  I could find it in none of the nurseries here, nor were my attempts to strike cuttings  successful.  I had almost given up when that same beguiling perfume caught my attention in Apollo Bay more than a year later.

That was not quite the end of the drama.  It turns out that S. guaranitica is a practical joker with a flair for the dramatic. 

Salvia canariensis

S. canariensis in full flower (mid Summer)

S. canariensis in full flower (mid Summer)

Common Name; Canary Island Sage

Description; A 2m tall native of the Canary Islands with interesting arrow shaped leaves of a soft sage colour.  Both leaves and stems are lightly “felted” with tiny hairs. From late spring until mid-autumn large clusters of showy pink/purple flowers with darker coloured calyxes cover the bush. Leaves and flowers have a musky scent similar to Clary Sage.