Tag Archives: Salvia ‘Waverly’

gardens without borders

This corner of my small, jam-packed garden is where it gets crazy. Okay, okay. Crazier.

This east end of the garden kind of horseshoes around this collection of containers, with the main sitting area (and more containers) off to the left.

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At first glance, I realize the takeaway is That’s a lot of containers. The polite version anyway.

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Agave x leopoldii and Agave ‘Tradewinds’ among the pots stacked on the concrete core samples.

And that’s no lie. Everyone knows that potted plants have a lot in common with rabbits, right? Same proliferation capabilities.

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But there’s even more containers here than meets the eye.
Here on the east fence, this little bricked area was once a much bigger seating area, covered by a pergola for shade.
Catastrophe struck when a eucalyptus fell on the pergola (which saved the house), and I’ve since nibbled away at the bricks to plant the cypresses for privacy.
A little creative destruction, with catastrophe viewed as opportunity. Now it’s just a small bricked postage stamp perfect for staging pots.

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Planted behind the postage stamp in the ground are the cypresses, of course, and the grasses, Pennisetum ‘Skyrocket.’
I much prefer how this grass grows here, constrained by the cypresses. The expanding clumps in the main garden will need to be split this winter.

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To get our bearings, the furcraea is in the ground in the arm of the horseshoe that separates the postage stamp from the main sitting area near the house.

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Everything else, including the Salvia ‘Waverly’ and Leycesteria formosa, are in containers hidden behind the staging for the succulents.
I can’t keep this moderately thirsty and very large salvia in the garden anymore, so I’m treating it like a summer annual for a container.
And I’ve learned that the finicky leycesteria needs perfect sun/shade, so a container makes sense for it too.
I thought they’d both look great in fall against the grasses in bloom. The staging hides their large, black plastic nursery containers.
The leycesteria (aka Pheasant Berry aka Himalayan Honeysuckle) should have blooms, but mine is still all leaves at this point, which I don’t mind at all.

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The soil in this narrow strip against the fence is filled with cypress roots now, but that doesn’t mean the fun is over.
The Spanish Flag vine, Mina lobata, is growing in a container at the base of the middle cypress.
It needed a little training at first, but being a vine it knows exactly what to do and has really gotten down to business in the last month.
This annual vine, always suggested as an easy climber for summer, is day-length sensitive and will only flower when the nights grow just long enough to suit it.
I’m not sure if I’ll see flowers this fall before the seasonal Santa Ana winds off the desert whip through the garden and shred the Spanish Flag to pieces.
Who said gardens aren’t exciting? They’re full of cliff-hangers like this.

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Another vine, Passiflora ‘Sunburst,’ is in a container at the base of the first cypress, where it’s scrambled up over 12 feet in a very short period of time.
It has set loads of buds, but it may be too late in the season. I’ve read that this passion vine doesn’t mind cooler temperatures, so we’ll see.
The Batman cape-leaves are almost entertainment enough.

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I’ve got a couple more passion vines in containers, one at the base of a pittosporum and another against the back wall of the house (getting too much southern exposure at the moment).

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Just as I always do with potted agaves, I plunged this Agave geminiflora into the garden when some post-summer room became available.

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Containers give so much flexibility, there’s no limit to the amount of crazy you can stir up.
Bring a vine to the cypress. Turn up or down the water. Moving to the Canary Islands? Give them all away to a lucky bunch of friends.
Another great thing about containers is, if you go back to the top photo and cover the pots with your hand, the collector mania is instantly drained from the photo.
Take away the containers, and once again you’re a respectable citizen in a serene garden with healthy control of your impulses.

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I look at it this way: If the vine experiments fail, I’ll have empty containers ready to use next summer.

Salvia ‘Love & Wishes’ (a salvia revue)

Yes, another salvia post. (You’re looking at a person for whom the ’90s publication of Betsy Clebsch’s master work A Book of Salvias, was a life-altering event.)
The two new salvias in my garden are so far living up to their reputation for sturdiness and early bloom, the ‘Amistad’ I mentioned recently and this one, ‘Love and Wishes,’ both planted last summer.

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I love trialing new salvias because:
1) in this vast, square-stemmed genus you’ll find a gorgeous bunch of plants, some very long blooming, and many capable of *innovative inter-species hybrids; and
2) they’re incredible hubs of action for pollinators and dive-bombing hummingbirds.
Their irresistible allure to hummingbirds means a vibrant kinetic energy always surrounds these plants.
Set up a camp stool nearby and grab a cold drink for a lively acrobatics show put on by these little Flying Wallendas in their iridescent finery.
The hummers eventually become acclimated to a human sitting quietly and will go about their zippy, enchanting business sometimes just inches away.
*‘Love & Wishes’ is a darker-flowered riff on the spectacularly successful Australian hybrid ‘Wendy’s Wish,’ thought to possibly be a cross between S. buchanii and S. splendens.
‘Amistad,’ from Brazil, may be a cross of S. guaranitica with S. gesneriiflora. Kinda makes one pine for a spontaneous salvia hybrid of one’s own, doesn’t it?


Salvia africana-lutea, from 2013, fantastic color, a little too big for my garden. Highly recommended if you have the space.


Another entry in the too-big department, Salvia mexicana ‘Limelight,’ from 2010, when there were a lot more summer containers to water:

And I don’t think there’s an affordable pot in existence roomy enough for a mature plant, except maybe the humble trash can. (On my budget anyway.)

The salvia flowers well in morning sun, filtered sun the rest of the day. During winter, full sun is tolerated, which this salvia receives positioned under a deciduous cotinus. As the seasonal light changes, it’s a simple matter of grabbing a handle and shoving it around to find the best light. Pruning it back hard in spring is also a good time for root pruning, basically running a knife a couple inches from the outer edge of the root ball, in situ in the trash can, removing the old roots, and adding fresh potting soil or even pure compost. This salvia loves rich soil. Eventually, it will be best to take cuttings and start the whole process over, since these big salvias get excessively woody with age.”


Salvia chiapensis, magenta madness almost year-round for me


Salvia ‘Waverly’ from 2011. Utterly dependable. One of the best for Southern California.

The search for the perfect salvia for my very small, zone 10 garden has turned up some gems like mid-sized ‘Waverley’ and Salvia chiapensis, both capable of season-long bloom, with a toughness and tolerance for dry conditions belying their exquisite looks. Many others I’ve trialed, though always beautiful, bloom only late in the season and/or bulk up into massive shrubs that quickly outgrow the garden
(see ‘Limelight’ above).


Salvia canariensis, beautiful for its leaves alone, then add in the persistent rosy bracts after flowering. Just stunning. Big and stunning.


Bracts on Salvia canariensis


Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain,’ June 2010, blooms most of the summer

The shrubby species from Mexico and Central America are much happier here than the perennial kinds so often used as matrix plants in Oudolfian meadows. I’ve had some success with Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain,’ but it doesn’t seem to enjoy the mild winter and usually needs replanting in spring every year. I see I made a mildly enthusiastic note in 2010 that it “blooms most of the summer.” I no longer explore the herbaceous kinds, but stick to the flamboyant shrub-like species and hybrids, not too big, not too thirsty — and because they are such prolific natural hybridizers, there’s always a new salvia to chase.

fall-blooming salvias and where to find some

I’ve been trying to scale the garden down, which means there will be no shed-sized, fall-blooming salvias this year like…

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Salvia involucrata, Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden, the rosebud sage. Some of the salvias like a bit more moisture than I’m doling out lately, and this one would fall into that group.

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The bog sage, Salvia uliginosa, at Cornerstone Sonoma. As its name suggests, it doesn’t mind moist soil but can manage in surprisingly dry conditions too.

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Bog sage leaning into frame with potted Eucomis and Scotch moss, sedum, Japanese anenomes, Cornerstone Sonoma

Size or water constraints won’t stop me from having a look at salvia offerings at the fall plant sales. Out of an estimated 700 to 900 species, there’s one for every situation. Colors are always intense, stems always squared. Since hummingbirds are helpless before the tubular siren call of salvias, be sure to include a seat nearby to enjoy the air show.

Here’s a gallery of salvias from gardens past, fall bloomers and otherwise. My garden unless otherwise indicated.


Salvia africana-lutea, 2/26/13 (removed because it was crowding Phylica pubescens, which has since died. And so it goes…)


Salvia reptans ‘West Texas Form,’ slim and upright. September 2012


Salvia sclarea ‘Piemont.’ The biennial clary sage is famous for reseeding (in every garden but mine. And so it goes…) July 2012


Salvia canariensis var. candissima, June 2012. Outsized, shrub-like. Very drought tolerant.


May 2011


Salvia macrophylla, September 2010. Large, sprawling, always presentable, with leaves clothing stems down to the ground. Not the heaviest bloomer for me though.


Salvia littae, November 2011.


Salvia madrensis, November 2011


Salvia ‘Wendy’s Wish,’ September 2011. Constant and dependable bloomer. We took this year off from each other so I could make room for something touchy and undependable. And so it goes…


Salvia ‘Waverly,’ July 2011. Utterly dependable. One of the best for Southern California.


July 2010


Salvia cacaliifolia, June 2011. The agave now resides in my neighbor’s garden.


August 2010


Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’ at the Huntington June 2011


Salvia wagneriana, April 2011. If you have the space, this salvia is known for blooming during Southern California’s winter


Salvia leucantha, Longwood Gardens, November 2010



Salvia van houttei, Longwood Gardens, November 2010


Salvia elegans ‘Golden Delicious’ Longwood Gardens, November 2010


Salvia ‘Limelight,’ October 2010


Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain,’ June 2010, blooms most of the summer

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Salvia clevelandii, June 2013, a California native, in a local hellstrip

In Southern California, a good place to find salvias is at Fullerton Arboretum’s salvia sale, September 21 and 22, 2013.

Bloom Day July 2011

We’re a tad overexposed and on the run…


a day late for Bloom Day, the 15th of every month, hosted by Carol of May Dreams Gardens.

More photos after the jump. Continue reading Bloom Day July 2011

Laurus nobilis ‘Aureus’

A potted bay tree is one of those timeless mediterranean garden features, like boxwood hedging, crunchy gravel underfoot, or urns planted with agaves.

Image found here.

Its leaves are useful for cooking just about anything that simmers. Laurus nobilis becomes a very large tree in zone 10, so keeping it contained also serves to control its ultimate size. What tempted me into undertaking the grindingly slow task of growing a bay standard from twig to tree was the added promise of those golden leaves in the variety ‘Aureus.’


It hasn’t been easy. Over the years, I’ve come very close to composting this little tree, mail-ordered from Dan Hinkley’s Heronswood nursery aeons ago as a tiny rooted twig. This is the first summer the tree’s leaves are uniformly golden. The previous decade or so of its life the leaves were ugly, mottled, sickish looking, neither gold nor green. I assumed full sun was the problem and tried dappled shade for it in the afternoon. The bay grew in size, the canopy filled out in the classic standard, if not actual lollipop shape, and I continued to use the leaves in the kitchen. But this winter I’d had enough of the malingerer and pulled off every last, disgusting leaf, keeping them al for cooking, of course. Flavor has been consistently good. The little tree surprisingly rewarded me this spring with the glimmering, goldeny, aureate leaves I’d always envisioned. I plucked one of its leaves just the other night to simmer with a pot of lentils.


The ‘Waverly’ salvia has spilled onto the bricks and engulfed the pot, which is now too heavy to move to try for a less chaotic photo. The little tree is almost 5’9″ in height, including the pot. Not quite a full lollipop canopy yet, and it needs more limbing up. But it just might get moved to a prime location where it can be fully appreciated now that it seems to have shaken off its awkward juvenile growth phase. I had started to crowd the bay and ruin its lines with odds and ends, a Crithmum maritimum, the vine Manettia cordifolia, which I’ll happily move elsewhere now that the bay seems to be on its way.


The moral being, by all means, grow a standard bay tree, but don’t torment yourself with ‘Aureus,’ unless you’re drawn to plants that puzzle you with their needs.

Sage Vice

Who can say at what number an enthusiasm or “keen interest” ends and a collection of plants begins? 20 hostas? 6 agaves? 114 daylilies?

When the genus is as diverse in leaf and flower as salvia, a collection interspersed throughout a garden may not even be noticed.

Salvia calcaliifolia

leaves of Salvia calcaliifolia

Australian hybrid ‘Wendy’s Wish’

Salvia ‘Christine Yeo’

Salvia wagneriana

leaves of Salvia wagneriana

leaves of Salvia karwinskii

Salvia ‘Waverly’

leaves of Salvia broussonetii

Salvia chiapensis

Beautiful plants for Southern California and other mediterranean climate zones.

Bloom Day December 2010

(Actor Slim Pickens riding the bomb in Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove.)


A December Bloom Day post begs for a little goofiness. No other word describes prowling a drizzly garden for photos in non-existent light searching for non-existent blooms.

The roster for this month is pretty thin. The paperwhites are budding. (The single most important factor for success with bulbs is foresight, foresight, foresight.)


Erysimum linifolium ‘Variegatum’ loves zone 10 winters.


The bracts of the ‘Waverly’ salvia color up duskiest in December.


Amicia zygomeris surprisingly putting out lots of fresh growth through winter, as well as these almost hidden, pale yellow, bruise-like flowers. My first year growing amicia, planted in fall, a favorite of the late Christopher Lloyd at Great Dixter. Any plant that flourishes in zone 10 winters is instantly suspect for being unable to endure zone 10’s dry summers.


I’ve been deadheading Queen Anne’s Lace, Ammi majus, to bulk up the plant for spring, but it insists on throwing out blooms.


Being a cloud-forest sage, Salvia chiapensis prefers the cool temps in fall, winter, and early spring.


Pelargoniums. (If Kathy sees this, she’ll know I’m stealing Filoli’s scheme of potted pelargoniums for the porch steps.)


The reed-stem orchids, epidendrum, are throwing a few blooms. They’re blooming like crazy all over town, which they might do here if I wasn’t so stingy with fertilizer. Run-off into storm drains is behind the stinginess, not money.


Copper Canyon Daisy, Tagetes lemmonii ‘Compacta’


Some succulents in bloom.

Graptoveria ‘Fred Ives’ harassed by one of the predators of winter.


This one came labeled as Echeveria elegans ‘Grey Red’


Amidst all the drizzle and grey, it looks like there’ll be roses for Christmas this year.


May we all ride Old Man Winter as joyfully as Slim Pickens atop the bomb and trust to expanded garden pickings ahead. Happy Bloom Day!


June 2010 Bloom Day

A 2-year-old mossed basket with sedums, agave, and oregano ‘Kent Beauty.’ I was surprised to see the oregano return this year. Life in a mossed basket can be rough.


The urns of arctoctis. Hopefully, the next time I replant the urns will be the day after Thanksgiving, to fill them with tulips. July is not too early to get a tulip order in for the best bulbs!


Salvia verticillata ‘Purple Rain’ and Libertia peregrinans. This libertia actually is in bloom, tiny and white, but it’s the tawny leaves I’m after.


Crocosmia just budding up, different kinds of forgotten names. Running in ribbons throughout, not in big clumps. I’m always amazed they find their way up and through at all in June.


Continue reading June 2010 Bloom Day

May Bloom Day

May is a heady month for gardens. Check them out at Carol’s host site for Bloom Day, May Dreams Gardens.

The pale lavender heliotrope is responding to longer and warmer days, sprawling over Oxalis vulcanicola, both perennial in zone 10. The heliotrope looks ratty in winter, when the oxalis billows and flourishes, while the reverse takes place over the summer.


Nicotianas, Salvia chiapensis, and Lysimachia purpurea:


A bigger view, including the white-flowered rehmannia and some gaillardia leaning in. The S. chiapensis is a young rooted cutting and will need lots more space than available in this spot, but it blooms well enough when small and keeps the hummers happy. The dark orange flowers in pots are Calceolaria ‘Kentish Hero.’ (Cover the autumnal, dark orange calceolaria with your hand and see how the other colors hold together better with just the lime green, burgundy and gold, but I do like that “kick” of orange. Does the orange go or stay?) The two dark-leaved shrubs are Lophomyrtus ralphii ‘Red Dragon’:


Miracle of Peru, Mirabilis jalapa, is self-sowing throughout the garden and comes true for the chartreuse leaf in the selection ‘Limelight.’


I’m not sure how much longer these Senecio stellata/cineraria will keep on going, but the cannas and castor bean plants are clamoring for elbow room.


And because there’s a big plant sale at the Huntington tomorrow, I’m sneaking in a “Foliage Followup,” the “shrubby” corner. Not very photogenic but some of my favorite plants are these tough, small-leaved shrubs and subshrubs. Potted agaves nearby add some needed heft, but I love the busy work, the fine patterns the small leaves give against the dark green, creeping fig-covered wall. Silvery Teucrium fruticans azureum and the furry, celadon leaves of Ballota pseudodictamnus make a nice backdrop for the cobaea to flaunt its blooms. A variegated solanum, Solanum rantonnetii, weaves through and is just starting to bloom quarter-size purple flowers, and the low-growing golden clump is Tanacetum vulgare ‘Isla Gold.’ Solanum pyracanthum is barely visible in this telescoped photo, but its orangey thorns are the blur just behind the potted sotol, next to the dark Canna ‘Intrigue,’ where orange arctotis pools at the base of its snail-chewed leaves. ‘Waverly’ salvia, just visible in the lower left corner, in bloom for months already, will probably need a rest by August. I’ll either cut it back or remove it after taking cuttings, since this plant is getting very woody at the base. But what a mainstay for the hummingbirds.


The Lespedeza thunbergii in the front garden is just beginning to bloom, always an early bloomer here rather than late summer. Gaura is waking up, one overwintering, plus two more bought blooming in their nursery pots. Verbascum, verbena, valerian, scabiosa, lavender, diascia, arctotis for pots and the garden, Calandrinia spectabilis still going strong. The climbing rose ‘Bouquet d’Or’ is in a second flush of blooms. Also in the front garden, the slackers dyckia and hesperaloe have bloomed this year for this first time. Now head over to Carol’s site and check out the amazing diversity of bloom in May.