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Sage, an herb to win back home gardens

Broadleaf sage, or

Salvia officinalis, is a perennial evergreen subshrub that swiftly became a mainstay across several of our garden areas. Overtly ornamental salvia varieties come up as showstoppers in garden centers, and digging just a bit deeper reveals an encyclopedic level of choices across woody and nonwoody, evergreen and deciduous, perennial and annual intersects. All are extensions of sage in the mint family, technically termed Lamiaceae.

After encountering this highlight regarding how much avid gardeners and instructors of gardeners look to incorporate sage, I’ll never look to leave it out. So la-mia-ceae what’s to appreciate about sage generally and how the swiftly seed-sown culinary herb fits in so easily across garden styles.

Aside from garden sage’s evergreen durability, look to these benefits:

  1. Sage leaves present a subtly hued, often textured, arrangement that accents other greenery while deterring fungal issues. Some call the coloring gray-green and texture pebbled or wrinkled. It can grow rapidly.
  2. Sage plants all involve some form of flowering. It is a period of weeks in Spring for the broadleaf culinary variety but presents multitudes of floral colors and bloom duration across the category as a whole. Additionally, timely pruning can introduce repeat blooms.
  3. While all sages fit the fragrant category of mints, broadleaf especially performs as a culinary herb, with leaves’ oil very effectively repelling wildlife and even avoiding major disruptions from insect infestations. I notice less fungal eruptions in vicinity of our broadleaf plants as well, and this makes it great for filling garden spaces without in fact introducing fungal issues you’d expect to spread more in a garden’s tighter quarters.

What is it about herbs that really gets us?

I’ve nurtured windowsill basil plants for a long time now, and multiple varieties of basil in my husband’s lock-down hydroponics project flourished in the period of time. Yet there is a surprising, refreshing world of difference when it comes to seeding culinary herbs outdoors. Part of this has to do with getting to better understand the plant, in my opinion, and in the case of culinary sage, its behavior as a subshrub presents a terrain within its terrain, whereby its complementary greenery ever looks to thrive.

The fragrance, like its coloring, has a subtlety that requires closer contact for most humans, yet the touch of its leaves imprints a lasting impression of the musk scent. Its habit toward full sun and its role as a keen barrier to disruptions in the garden bed have made it a straightforward choice to weave between various Hosta plants, notorious for the nibbles of deer and rabbits alike, not to mention for softening edges and better connecting spaces in transition.

The spikes of blue-purple flowers are as decorative as any garden shrub, and I’ll be sure to trim them as close to the cuff as possible first round next season, to help them catch a repeat bloom.

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Come to expect broadleaf sage among your most consistent growth in a garden bed. In our zone 7a, its evergreen habit adds surprisingly persistent flair.